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According to a recent report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the youth of today’s generations are facing a much higher risk for heart disease and high blood pressure. The new federal government report revealed that 9 out of 10 kids between the ages of 6 and 18 consume way more salt than the recommended maximum of 2,300 milligrams per day! In fact, researchers from the CDC found that even before kids add table salt to their foods they are already consuming an average of 3,300 milligrams of sodium, which is at least 1,000 more milligrams than they should be having a day.
Researchers and healthcare practitioners alike are reporting that these findings regarding childhood salt intake are very alarming and worrisome, especially with the CDC reporting that 1 in 6 children already has raised blood pressure. Like CDC Deputy Principal Director Ileana Arias explained, having raised blood pressure as a child often translates into having high blood pressure in adulthood, which has been known to be a major cause of heart disease and strokes.
While the first instinct may be to remove saltshakers from the dining table, experts emphasize that while removing saltshakers from the table will help, it is more important to monitor the sodium content of the foods you buy (whether they come from a shelf at the grocery store, a drive-thru fast food chain, a sit-down restaurant, and even the school cafeteria). You may or may not be surprised to learn that the CDC actually found that about 43% of the sodium kids eat could be attributed to 10 kid-favorite foods, which include pizza, bread and rolls, cold cuts and cured meats, savory snacks, sandwiches, cheese, chicken patties and nuggets, pasta dishes, Mexican dishes and soups. Therefore, making an effort to limit the intake of high-sodium foods will significantly help lower childrens’ risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, and strokes. Like Arias stated, "by paying attention to nutrition labels, you can easily reduce the amount of sodium you're eating every day." In addition to being detrimental to both their short-term and long-term health, children who follow high sodium diets now will often continue to consume high-sodium diets long into adulthood.
In an attempt to help children cut back on their sodium intake federal officials are calling on the fast food industry to reduce the amount of sodium that is used in their foods. In addition, the CDC also reported that by 2022 new national nutrition standards are anticipated to lead to a 25-50% reduction of salt intake in school cafeteria foods. The CDC report says that the sole move of school cafeterias reducing their sodium content could help cut back kids sodium intake by at least 200 milligrams a day.
The main point here is that the excessive consumption of salt is having (and will continue to have) long-lasting detrimental effects on the health of our population. Reducing sodium consumption will significantly help reduce the chances of our youth developing high blood pressure, heart disease, and strokes.