Evaluation of Web-based Dietary Screening Tools in the Management of Cardiovascular Risk Factors

(Présentement, le texte de cette page est disponible seulement en anglais)
Principal Investigator
Arcand, JoAnne (Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Ontario Institute of Technology)

Mary R. L’Abbe & John S. Floras

Network Affiliation
Canadian Vascular Network


1. The Health Problem/Issue

A diet high in sodium (or salt) is a cause of high blood pressure and increases a person's risk for having heart disease or stroke. Most Canadians consume too much sodium and should work to limit the amount of sodium in their diet. This advice is more urgent in people with high blood pressure, to lower their blood pressure to normal levels. Most sodium comes from processed (packaged) foods and restaurant foods, not from sodium (or salt) added at the table or during cooking.
There are very few practical ways to measure the amount of sodium in a person's diet. Therefore, it is difficult for doctors to understand the amount of sodium their patients eat. This is very important for patients with high blood pressure, since they need advice to lower the sodium in their diet. To solve this problem, we have developed an online Sodium Calculator (www.projectbiglife.com) to help Canadian patients, doctors and the public understand how much sodium they eat. The Sodium Calculator gives instant feedback on the amount and sources of sodium in the diet. However we don't yet know if the information communicated from Sodium. Calculator can help people lower the sodium in the diet.

2. The Objectives 

We think that the Sodium Calculator will help people with high blood pressure know the sources of sodium in their diet, and that people will then lower amount of sodium they eat, because they will reduce their intake of high sodium foods. This should lead to a reduction in blood pressure, a leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Therefore, the purpose of this research is to find out how much the Sodium Calculator helps lower the amount of sodium people who have high blood pressure eat.

3. The Approach

We will work with family doctors who usually treat people who have high blood pressure. We will first interview these doctors to find out how to best have patients complete the Sodium Calculator. For example, with the doctor, in the waiting room, or at home. We will also interview patients to find out what they think is best. We will take what we learn from this study and create a larger study to test how completing the Sodium Calculator compares with a "usual" treatment, which is giving a pamphlet on lowering sodium in thediet. Patients will discuss how well they have lowered sodium with their doctor at a follow-up appointment 3 weeks later. After 6 weeks the study will be over. We will measure how much the sodium in the diet has changed over that 6 week time period. We will also measure blood pressure, to see if this was lower at the end of the study.

4. The Unique Factors 

This research program is testing a brand new tool that I co-developed, that tells the amount of sodium in the diet and what foods contribute the most sodium. Therefore it is a tool for doctors and patients to measure the changes in sodium in the diet. It is also an educational tool and gives personalized information based on a person's food intake habits.

5. How the project is relevant to the objectives of the initiative 

Dietary sodium is the main factor that causes high blood pressure and increases risk for developing heart disease and having a stroke. This research tests different strategies to help people lower the amount of sodium in their diet. The studies include people with high blood pressure because they are at greatest risk for heart disease and stroke.

6. The Impact

This research will find ways to help people with high blood pressure lower the amount of sodium in their diet. This will reduce their risk of having more serious heart problems or a stroke and help them live longer, healthier lives.