A study has been released that shows that children and teenagers are almost taking in as much sodium as adults and those who consume the most sodium have a greater risk of having high blood pressure compared to those who consume the least sodium. One of the researchers involved in the study, Quanhe Yang, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said that the connection was particularly strong among overweight and obese children.
The study looked at the diets and blood pressure of 6,235 children between 8 and 18 years of age. The data shows that children in this age bracket are consuming an average of 3,387 milligrams of sodium each day, which is about the same amount that adults consume each day. The sodium intake for the children in the study ranged from 1,300 to 8,100 milligrams per day. The U.S. dietary guidelines suggests a consumption of less than 2,300 milligrams per day (less than one teaspoon of table salt) for people two years of age and up. Less than 1,500 milligrams is suggested for older Americans and people with high blood pressure.
Yang and the other researchers involved in the study found that for every 1,000 mg of extra sodium in the children’s diets, there was a one-point rise increase in blood pressure. They found that among overweight and obese children, each 1,000 mg of sodium led to a blood pressure increase of 1.5 points. With these types of numbers, we need to educate ourselves on the risks of cardiovascular disease, such as diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol.
Reducing the amounts of sodium in children’s diets is not an easy task for parents. It takes time to figure out what foods contain salt and how much it contains. When dining out at restaurants, much of the food we consume contains high levels of sodium so it is difficult to manage our intakes when on the go. It is important to know that if the foods do not taste salty it does not mean it doesn’t contain salt. Many foods simply contain salt in order to preserve it. Also, we need to pay attention to food labels when grocery shopping. Below is a helpful chart from the CDC that shows the top food sources of sodium.
Top Sources of Sodium in the Diet
- Bread and rolls
- Cold cuts and cured meats
- Pasta dishes
- Meat dishes
Click here to review the full research article released in the Pediatrics journal online 9/17/2012.