Adults may worry about having high blood pressure, but excessive sodium is dangerous for kids too. A study published in Pediatrics journal last year revealed that American children are consuming a whopping 3,387 milligrams of sodium a day on average.
That's far more than the U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommended limit of 2,300 mg per day and the American Heart Association recommended limit of 1,500 mg per day. This level of sodium intake increases a child’s risk of high blood pressure, especially for overweight or obese children. Sodium intake also leads to calcium loss, a concern for bone development in children.
One explanation for the high levels is that many packaged foods marketed to children are processed with a lot of added sodium. While some foods naturally contain sodium, the more processing a food undergoes, the higher its sodium content tends to be. Here’s a sampling of the sodium contents of some foods commonly marketed to children and teenagers.
You can take charge of the sodium in your child’s diet with these steps:
— By Sylvia Pong, Bastyr dietetic intern, and Debra Boutin, MS, RD, chair and dietetic internship director, Department of Nutrition and Exercise Science at Bastyr University.
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