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High Blood Pressure in Children Linked to Salt Intake

High blood pressure plays a large role in the development of cardiovascular disease. Commonly affected by diet and body weight, high blood pressure has generally been a health concern for adults … but not anymore. A new study indicates that children are also at risk for high blood pressure.

This new study found that there was a link between sodium intake and childhood high blood pressure. In over 6,000 children, ranging from ages 8 to 18 years, researchers found that the children who registered higher blood pressure readings also took in the highest amounts of sodium.  Additionally, children who were considered to be overweight or obese showed the highest levels of salt intake, and, consequently, yielded higher blood pressure levels.

Although, it is recommended to have salt in your diet, safe intake levels are indicated at 2,300 mg per day. This new data shows that the children examined for the study consumed about 3,387 mg a day on average. Not only does this number far exceed the recommended daily amount for the average person, but it also comes very close to the elevated amount of sodium the average adult takes in daily - about 3,466 mg/day. Researchers state that bread and deli meats are where we get most of our salt from. Lowering your risk for high blood pressure can be assisted by increasing your intake of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. It is also suggested to keep the salt shaker off of the dinner table altogether, in an effort to decrease the amount of salt added to already prepared foods.

Higher blood pressure and high sodium intake in children poses potentially serious health concerns. High blood pressure damages blood vessel walls and, starting this damage early on, increases the child’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Adding in additional risk factors, such as body weight, unhealthy diet, sedentary lifestyles, and genetics, these children could face a long road of health struggles as they age.

Cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of death in America. It has generally been associated with the older population, or at least those over the age of 18, but this may change. In today’s busy society, many families rely on processed food or fast food for meals. Now, with a study showing that high blood pressure in children is linked to salt intake, small adjustments can be made within the diet to cut back on sodium to improve the health and quality of life for kids.

Sources: Reuters - NY Daily News - Health -
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