Out of sight, out of mind - that is the basis of Public Health's new campaign to reduce the amount of salt consumed by residents. Excessive consumption of salt and salt products are a contributing factor to heart disease, which according to Public Health program coordinator Alex Silverio is the number one killer on Guam.

Recognizing this Public Health has partnered with the Guam Hotel and Restaurant Association, the Micronesian Chefs Association, and hopefully Global Food Services to launch a salt reduction initiative which requests restaurants who join the pledge to remove salt shakers from dining tables. Racial and Ethnic Approach to Regional Health project assistant Ruby Gonzales told KUAM News, "Not just the salt shakers but also soy sauce, finadene if they have bagoong. It's still available but just by request we are not telling them to ban it because it is up to us what we eat but it is going to out of the vision of the customers."

Gonzales says that excessive salt consumption can affect a person's blood pressure because it causes the body to retain fluid. She adds that according to the World Health Organization it is recommended that less than five grams of salt should be consumed a day. With salt shakers and soy sauce readily available on dining tables according to Silverio many people tend to over salt their food, adding, "By habit many people even before tasting their food add salt to it by habit that makes the problem of excessive salt consumption even worse so by removing the salt shakers and salt products it lessen the likelihood of adding the salt product that's not needed."

He says most chefs and cooks they've spoken with say the food they are serving is already well seasoned and doesn't need anything to alter the flavor. But what about those who may worry that the food will be bland?

"When people say that without putting salt on my food its bland it's because they have been accustomed to the flavor of that highly salted food already so it will taste bland the first few days of reducing the salt intake but after awhile you will realize the taste buds will re-accustom themselves to it original state and the food will come out the flavor tasting the way it should be not over salted," he said.

The idea is based on the quote "Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind" and restaurants like Simply Foods is happy to join in on the salt reduction initiative. Simply Foods Sharon Schmidt said, "We are happy to support the salt reduction initiative we actually started it last week Wednesday so all of the salt shakers are removed from the tables and we are happy to join this movement. It goes in line with our mission to give healthier food to the island and we want to do whatever we can to prevent disease and help Guam be just a healthier place to live."

So if you are a restaurant owner and would like to join simply foods in the Salt Reduction Initiative on July 29 by removing the salt shaker from your dining tables contact Public Health at 735-7336.