According to the new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, about 90% of US children ages 6-18 years eat too much sodium daily. Higher intake of sodium puts the children at risk for developing high blood pressure and heart disease in adulthood.
“Most sodium is in the form of salt, as a part of processed foods. A high sodium diet can lead to high blood pressure. About 1 in 6 children ages 8-17 years has raised blood pressure. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Lowering sodium in children’s diets today can help prevent heart disease tomorrow, especially for those who are overweight. The taste for salt is established through diet at a young age. Parents and caregivers can help lower sodium by influencing the way foods are produced, sold, prepared, and served,” reads the report.
“Too many children are consuming way too much sodium, and the result will be risks of high blood pressure and heart disease in the future. Most sodium is from processed and restaurant food, not the salt shaker. Reducing sodium intake will help our children avoid tragic and expensive health problems,” said Tom Frieden, MD, MPH – Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Using the most recent national data from 2009-2010, the report details how much sodium school-age children eat and where it comes from. It further states that 10 common types of foods- pizza, bread and rolls, cold cuts/cured meats, savory snacks, sandwiches, cheese, chicken patties/nuggets/tenders, pasta mixed dishes, Mexican mixed dishes, and soups- contribute more than 40% of the sodium eaten by children. Approximately 65 percent of sodium comes from store foods, 13 percent from fast food and pizza restaurant foods, and nine percent from school cafeteria foods.
The report suggests that 1 in 6 children has raised blood pressure. “A vast majority of scientific research confirms that as sodium is reduced, so is blood pressure.” said Janelle Gunn of the CDC’s Division of Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention.
The report further advices, “Places that produce, sell, or serve food can replace sodium with alternatives like spices, herbs, and vegetables, as well as shop around for lower sodium brands.”