Children Consuming Too Much Sodium, Study Finds

Despite widespread efforts to make school lunches healthier and to restrict soda on campuses, a new federal study shows that children are consuming just as much sodium as adults.

Indeed, children between the ages of 8 and 18 are consuming an average of 3,387 milligrams daily, more than double the recommendation from the American Heart Association.

Health officials say processed food, eating out in restaurants and drinking beverages at home are to blame.

“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 American Heart Association, in a news release. “High blood pressure, once viewed as an adult illness is now affecting more young people because of high sodium diets and increasing obesity.”

The daily recommended limit from the American Heart Association is 1,500 milligrams for adults. Eating too much sodium is linked to developing high blood pressure – a major risk for heart disease and stroke. More pediatricians are treating children with high blood pressure as the nation’s childhood obesity epidemic continues to grow.

“While new nutrition standards for school meals are helping, progress is slow,” Brown added. “This study strongly underscores the need to move faster because our kids are on an early path to heart attacks and strokes.”

The study, conducted by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also found that the “risk for high blood pressure among overweight and obese youths rose 74 percent for every 1,000 milligrams of increased sodium intake per day. That compared to only a 6 percent increase among normal-weight young people.”

Brown said the study highlights the need to make reducing sodium a national priority.

“The salt we all eat daily is becoming a major public health issue and current approaches to sodium reduction in the U.S. have not been effective,”she said.

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