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Americans Kids Eat Way Too Much Salt, Experts Say

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
September 17th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Like sugar, doctors and medical experts are saying that kids in the U.S. eat way too much salt. It's not just those kids who douse their fries in added salt who are at risk, they warn - and awful lot of snack food and treats are high in sodium. This puts children at special risk for high blood pressure, especially if they are overweight and or obese.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - American kids eat about 1,000 milligrams of salt more than they should each day - just like adults, a new government study says. The new findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were published online in the Sept. 17 issue of Pediatrics.

Researchers at the CDC looked at data on 6,200 kids aged 8 to 18. The children were asked twice over several days to detail all foods they'd eaten the previous day, with researchers calculating salt intake from their answers.

Overall, 15 percent had either high blood pressure or slightly elevated blood pressure called pre-hypertension.

Thirty-seven percent of the kids in the study were considered overweight or obese. The risk for high blood pressure among these kids was more than triple.

The recommended daily salt or sodium intake for kids and adults is no more than 1 teaspoon daily, or about 2,300 milligrams. Children ate nearly 3,400 milligrams daily, the study found, and male children were more likely to consume more salt than female children.

Researcher Quanhe Yang says it's not known why heavier kids would be more sensitive to salt, but it could be due to obesity-related hormone changes.

The results raise concerns because studies have shown that elevated blood pressure in childhood, even just pre-hypertension, can lead to full-fledged high blood pressure in adulthood and potentially premature heart disease.

It must be noted that pre-hypertension and high blood pressure in children younger than 17 depend on age, height and gender.

In those 18 and up, readings between 120 over 80 and 140 over 90 are pre-hypertension; 140 over 90 and higher is high blood pressure.

The 10 biggest culprits for dietary sodium in the U.S. diet included such likely suspects such as salty snacks and pizza.

To reduce salt intake - and risk for heart disease and stroke - the CDC recommends eating a diet rich in fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables without sauce.

Processed and restaurant foods contain the most salt, the CDC says, so be sure to check nutrition facts for information or request lower-sodium options when eating out.

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