According to new statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 9 in 10 U.S. children (a full 90%) are eating way more sodium than recommended for a healthy diet. CDC research shows that kids are eating an average of about 3,300 mg of sodium a day before salt is added at the table, but that the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that children eat less than 2,300 mg per day. Worse, the CDC reports that around 1 in 6 children ages 8-17 years has raised blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke later in life. Kids who are overweight and eating too much sodium are at an even higher risk for heart disease. The rise in sodium intake is likely due to convenience prepackaged foods and fast food, all of which tends to be overladen with salt. The CDC points out that some of the highest sodium food items are the very ones kids love, such as pizza, cheese, chicken nuggets, canned soup, bread, cold cuts and sandwiches. Luckily, the CDC also notes that parents can help lower their kids sodium intake with just a few small steps, including:
- Serving fresh, whole foods early on, as kids develop a taste for salt (or not) when they’re young.
- Serve a diet rich in fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables without added sodium.
- Read and compare nutrition labels and choose the lowest sodium food options you can.
- When you go out to eat, request nutrition information from the restaurant so you can make lower sodium choices for the whole family.