CLEVELAND — Growing up, Leslie Bates’ mom suffered from high blood pressure, so she has always been mindful of how she feeds her own family.

What You Need To Know

  • A proposal in front of Cleveland City Council would require Cleveland restaurants to add warning labels next to menu items high in sodium.

  • The goal of the policy is to reduce the risk of hypertension, heart attack and stroke

  • Similar warning labels are already used in New York and Philadelphia

“I grew up in a house that didn’t have a salt shaker,” Bates said.

Bates said she supports a proposal in front of the Cleveland city council that would require both fast-food and local restaurants to add a warning label or icon next to menu items that are high in sodium.

“As part of the African American community, salt is killing us,” Bates said.

Ashley Hebert is a program manager for The Center for Black Health & Equity. She said warnings have already been added to menus in larger cities like New York and Philadelphia.

“Why not Cleveland? Cleveland has also led the way in other public health policies: smoke-free air, a healthy restaurant kids’ meal beverage policy,” Hebert said.

Hebert said the warnings are a simple way to provide extra information when eating out.

“These are good evidence-based policies that can slowly chip away at those rates of hypertension and heart attack and stroke,” she said.

The menu warning would be easy to identify. Items that have 1,500 or more milligrams of sodium would have a little triangle next to that item on the menu.

Hebert says the change would benefit everyone.

“This is not only a Black issue, it’s an everyone issue. But we have also highlighted the need for it in the Black community because of the rates of hypertension, heart attack and stroke,” Hebert said.

Bates said the sodium warning labels make sense to her, especially since restaurants have already been adding similar labels for those who are vegan, vegetarian or gluten-free.

“It should have been considered years ago, when we have all these people who are naturally on hypertension medicine,” Bates said.