ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS Atlanta) – A new study has found that nine out of 10 American children eat too much salt putting them at risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.
Researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that kids aged 6 to 18 eat 3,300 milligrams of sodium a day. The recommended dietary guidelines suggest that children should eat less than 2,300 milligrams per day.
“One in six children already has raised blood pressure, which can result in high blood pressure in adulthood, as we know a major cause of heart disease and stroke,” CDC Deputy Principal Director Ileana Arias told Health Day. “This is incredibly concerning to us.”
The CDC found that roughly 43 percent of the salt ingested by children comes from the 10 foods they eat most often including pizza, bread and rolls, cold cuts and cured meats, savory snacks, sandwiches, cheese, chicken patties and nuggets, pasta dishes, Mexican dishes and soups.
“Some of these foods may not taste salty but they are top contributors because they do have significant sodium content, and children eat a lot of them,” Arias explained to Health Day. We know that the taste for salt is established through diet at a young age. Not only are children eating too much sodium, they are establishing a high threshold or taste for salt beyond childhood.”
Arias noted that most sodium is already in food before it is purchased or ordered. Approximately 13 percent from fast food, 65 percent from store foods, and 9 percent from school cafeteria foods. She believes that parents should be reading the nutrition labels at the supermarket and asking for nutritional information at restaurants.
“By paying attention to nutrition labels, you can easily reduce the amount of sodium you’re eating every day,” she said to Health day.
She also shared that families can serve more fresh vegetables and fruits in addition to preparing foods using less salt.
Study authors used data from more than 2,000 children who participate din the CDC’s 2009-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.