Sodium consumption found to be high among children

salt1This study, while it talks about US children aged six to 18 consuming more than the recommended amount of sodium (in the form of salt), might as well be a warning to Filipino children too.

According to a new Vital Signs report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 90% of the children between these ages eat an average of about 3,300 mg of sodium a day even before salt is added at the table. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that children eat less than 2,300 mg per day.

CDC researchers also found that approximately 65 percent of sodium comes from store foods, 13 percent from fast food and pizza restaurant foods, and 9 percent from school cafeteria foods.

Based on data from the 2009-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the CDC noted that about 43 percent of sodium eaten by children comes from 10 foods including cold cuts, cured meats and chicken products like nuggets and tenders.

Having worked in a meat processing plant before, I can only agree to this study.

The CDC recommends that parents tackle the problem by giving their children a diet high in fruits and vegetables without added sodium. Schools and school districts can offer students lower-sodium options in vending machines, school stores and cafeterias.

While changing low-salt diet can easily be made in rich countries, the same cannot be said in third world countries where salted food, almost always, is present on the table as its main dish or, in some cases, to augment what little variety they have for meal. Fruits have become a luxury.

Unless the quality of life improves, the children of poor families will always inherently suffer the highest risk of contracting illnesses related to high intake of sodium in later years.

Exceptions are those belonging to the higher socioeconomic sector of society who can afford to go shopping all the time and eat out in restaurants more often. The study is more applicable to this sector.

What this study is simply saying is that nearly 9 in 10 US children eat more sodium than recommended, and about 1 in 6 children has raised blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

Lowering sodium in children’s diets today can help prevent heart disease tomorrow.

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