A new study from researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that children in the U.S. between the ages of 8 and 18 are eating, on average, 3,387 mg per day. That’s about the same amount as adults. But it’s a lot more than the 2,300 mg daily limit recommended by the federal dietary guidelines.
And the result? Janelle Gunn, a public health analyst with the CDC, says it’s pretty clear. “We found that higher sodium intake was associated with higher blood pressure,” she says.
Pediatric hypertension (high blood pressure) is harmful to the developing and growing heart and “end-organs” (brain, kidneys, eyes, etc.). The injuries may not become apparent until adulthood and the damage may be irreversible at that point.
Remember, good habits for good health start in childhood. Parents who make their own baby foods should not add salt to the food they are preparing. Children should not be adding table salt to their plates of food.
Here are some other steps families can take to limit their sodium intake:
- Don’t add table salt to the food on your plate (keep table salt off the table).
- Limit the amount of salt you cook with.
- Eliminate or limit the amount of processed (packaged) food you eat. This may be the biggest source of dietary sodium.
- Eat more meals at home that you prepare from “whole” ingredients (i.e. real food).
- Be aware that restaurant food may be prepared using a lot of salt.
- Avoid eating at “fast food” restaurants unless you are choosing from their “healthy” or “low sodium” menus.
- Read food labels and limit daily sodium intake to 2,300 mg.
Real food (that is, food that contains only one ingredient and dishes that contain only real food) is more expensive than processed food. It’s also usually lower in calories, lower in sodium, lower in fat, and lacking the preservatives, flavorings, colorings, and other chemicals that are difficult to pronounce, commonly found in processed foods. You get more of these things in processed foods, along with more hypertension and obesity, and the health-threatening illnesses associated with them.
Article in Pediatrics here:
NPR article here: