2015 Top 25
City of Philadelphia, PA
Innovations in American Government Awards

Philadelphia has the highest prevalence of hypertension among the 10 largest US cities, affecting 47 percent of African Americans and 31 percent of Hispanics. Chinese take-out restaurants are a ubiquitous part of the Philadelphia landscape and are located predominantly in low-income neighborhoods with large racial and ethnic minority populations. The Healthy Chinese Take-out Initiative is an unprecedented effort to prevent and mitigate cardiovascular disease among these minorities by decreasing the sodium content of meals served at more than 200 Chinese take-out restaurants. Established in 2012 with funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this initiative is a partnership between the city's Department of Public Health, Temple University’s Center for Asian Health, the Asian Community Health Coalition, and the Greater Philadelphia Chinese Restaurant Association. Key components of the intervention include: 1) recruitment of independent Chinese take-out restaurants in low-income communities; 2) a formative assessment of owner/chef knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors related to salt use and consumption; 3) low-sodium cooking trainings led by experts; 4) distribution of low-sodium recipes, toolkits, and measuring spoons; and 5) on-site compliance checks and booster trainings. The program has demonstrated significant and sustained sodium reduction in participating restaurants as evidenced by sodium analysis conducted over 24 months. Results showed a 13–34 percent reduction in sodium content of three popular dishes, surpassing the program’s initial four-year goal of a 10–15 percent reduction in sodium.