When we worry about what our children eat, we most often involve ourselves with concerns over sugar and fat. We read labels on processed foods and frown upon items that are rife with loads of sugar or enough fat to seriously endanger a 55-year-old, but salt, well we don’t think about it enough.
Kids love salty snacks about as much as they love sugar-frosted items, but parents seem to allow this indulgence far more often and comfortably than we would a fistful of candy or fatty foods. Now comes word from the journal Pediatrics that kids are consuming way more salt than we ever thought and the results can be detrimental. According to a new study from researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children in the United States (between age 8 and 18) are consuming an average of 3,387 mg of sodium per day, which is about the same as most adults. However, you need to factor in that children are (on average) far smaller than most adults and this amount far exceeds the 2,300 mg limit recommended by the federal dietary guidelines.
As we adults may already know, excess salt intake can likely lead to struggles with high blood pressure, and children are no exception. The link between high blood pressure and salt intake among children was strongest among those who were overweight. “We found among overweight and obese participants (in the study), that for every 1,000 mg of sodium they consumed, their blood pressure response was seven times greater (compared to healthy-weight children),” said Janelle Gunn, a public health analyst with the CDC.
But to be clear, these children are not likely getting these excessive doses of sodium by pouring on the salt. More than likely, experts say all of this sodium is coming from a proliferation of processed foods that are not all that perceptibly salty, like bread, crackers, and dipping sauce.
Do you feel you are vigilant about your child/children’s salt intake? If so, what do you do to keep things on an acceptable and safe level?