by Mary Ann Burns
A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has discovered that more than 90 percent of American children consume too much sodium. Foods such as chicken nuggets, pizza and pasta account for almost half of their sodium intake, according to the study.
The CDC researchers interviewed and examined 2,266 children ages 6 to 18 as part of the ongoing “What We Eat in America,” the dietary survey of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
Overall, the study found that 43 percent of children’s sodium come from foods frequently marketed to kids at restaurants and grocery stores. Savory snacks, deli meats, breads, soups and cheeses were also on the list of items with high sodium.
The American Heart Association recommends 1,500 mg of sodium a day for all Americans for ideal heart health. On average, kids ages 2-19 eat more than 3,100 mg sodium per day, and the older children get, the more calories and sodium they tend to eat. Too much sodium is linked to high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke and several other serious health problems.
The CDC study found that the risk for high blood pressure among overweight and obese youths rose 74 percent for every 1,000 milligrams of increased sodium intake per day. That compared to only a 6 percent increase among normal-weight young people.
High blood pressure is one of several diseases that once appeared mainly in adults but has become much more common in youths during our childhood obesity epidemic. In fact, one in six kids have elevated blood pressure and approximately 90 percent of all Americans will develop hypertension over their lifetime. Uncontrolled blood pressure can cause damage to arteries, heart and other organs. And because high blood pressure is symptomless, it can go untreated. The American Heart Association recommends that all children have yearly blood pressure measurements.
Independent of its effects on blood pressure, excess sodium intake adversely affects the heart, kidneys, and blood vessels. Excess sodium intake has also been linked to kidney stones, asthma, osteoporosis, and gastric cancer.
A kid’s preference for salty-tasting foods are shaped early in life, but parents and caregivers can help lower sodium by influencing how foods are produced, purchased, prepared and served. The American Heart Association offers many resources such as Life’s Simple 7 For Kids, tips and recipes that you can use to decrease sodium and improve your family’s overall health.comments powered by Disqus