The overuse of sodium isn't just an adult concern. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has discovered that 90 percent of children ages 6 to 18 consume an average of 1,000 milligrams more sodium than the recommended daily amount, which is 2,300 milligrams.
"Too many children are consuming way too much sodium, and the result will be risks of high blood pressure and heart disease in the future. Most sodium is from processed and restaurant food, not the salt shaker. Reducing sodium intake will help our children avoid tragic and expensive health problems," CDC Director Tom Frieden says.
CDC researchers discovered that 43 percent of the sodium children consume comes from their top 10 most-eaten foods: pizza, bread and rolls, cold cuts/cured meats, savory snacks, sandwiches, cheese, chicken patties/nuggets/tenders, pasta mixed dishes, Mexican mixed dishes and soups.
The CDC says the breakdown of sodium among prepared and packaged food is: 65 percent from store-bought foods, 13 percent from fast-food and pizza restaurants and 9 percent from school cafeteria food. Most schools are now serving lower-sodium food.
The CDC says as a parent, you can:
- Model healthy eating for your children by having a diet rich in fruits and vegetables without added sodium.
- Compare Nutrition Facts labels to choose the lowest-sodium option before you buy.
- Ask your grocery manager to provide more low-sodium options of your family's favorite foods.
- Request restaurant nutrition information to make lower sodium choices.
Parents should provide low-salt snacks and meals as often as possible. You might be surprised to discover how many low-sodium options are out there! Remember to aim for 2,300 milligrams per day or less. Here are some low-sodium snack ideas for kids:
- Fresh fruits, such as grapes and berries
- Unsalted pretzels
- Fresh veggies
- String cheese (1 oz)
- Yogurt (8 oz)
- Celery sticks with unsalted peanut butter
- Popcorn (plain air-popped)
- Fruit roll-ups
- Fruit popsicle