Salt intake is a growing issue in the U.S., not only for adults, but for kids as well. The American Heart Association (AHA) reports that 97 percent of children and adolescents eat too much salt on a daily basis. During baby development, this increases their likelihood of developing cardiovascular diseases like high blood pressure and other related complications as they age. The issue at hand goes way beyond just adding a little bit of salt to flavor baked chicken at dinner, and is a result of a the abundance of processed, packaged and preserved options, as well as the poor quality of food served in school cafeterias.
Kids consume just as much salt as adults
A new study published in the journal Pediatrics found that children between the ages of 8 and 18, on average, consume more than 3,300 milligrams of sodium per day. Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that not only is this the same amount that adults typically get through their daily diet, but it's more than twice the amount recommended by the AHA, which is no more than 1 teaspoon or 2,300 milligrams.
This amount of sodium is excessive and dangerous, putting kids at an increased risk for heart disease, stroke and hypertension. Moreover, if a child is already obese, his or her likelihood triples for any of these conditions.
"It's very disturbing that this nation's children and teens consume too much salt in their diets at school and home," said Nancy Brown, CEO of the AHA. "High blood pressure, once viewed as an adult illness, is now affecting more young people because of high-sodium diets and increasing obesity. While new nutrition standards for school meals are helping, progress is slow. This study strongly underscores the need to move faster because our kids are on an early path to heart attacks and strokes."
Brown also discussed how this topic is becoming a public health issue and emphasizes the need for new strategies to reduce the amount of salt Americans are consuming.
Consumers and manufacturers have to work together to reduce sodium levels
The AHA encourages food manufactures to reduce the amount of sodium they put into their products and advocates for the overall increased consumption of healthier foods, such as fruits and vegetables. The organization works to reach out to parents to help educate them about how to make healthy decisions at the grocery store.
In addition, the AHA estimates that if Americans cut their salt intake at least in half, they could not only decrease their likelihood of high blood pressure, but could save the country more than $26 billion in healthcare expenses over the course of a year.
As a parent, are you aware of how much sodium your kids consume? Or yourself for that matter? If you actively try to reduce salt intake in your family, can you provide any suggestions for our readers? Leave your answers in the comments section!