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WHO Releases New Sodium Guidelines for Kids

Kids, back away from the snack packs. The World Health Organization is recommending that parents of children between the ages of two and 15 keep an eye on their child’s sodium intake each day. These new guidelines, the first ever issued by the organization for children, are a response to the growing epidemic of high blood pressure in the United States. High blood pressure increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, the top cause of death worldwide.

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Although the official report didn’t mention specific sodium level for children, the recommended maximum level of less than 2,000 mg daily for adults, also new, “should be adjusted downward based on the energy requirements of children relative to those of adults,” according to the report. The average American child consumes 3,400 mg of sodium each day, according to 2012 study in Pediatrics.

Plus: How to Decrease Sodium in Your Diet

"Diet-related NCDs [non-communicable diseases] are chronic, and take years and decades to manifest; thus, delaying the onset of these diseases could improve lives and result in substantial cost savings," the report said. "Thus, addressing, during childhood, the problem of elevated blood pressure and other risk factors for NCDs that could manifest later in life is crucial to combat NCDs," it said.

The good news is you can retrain your family’s palate over time to crave less salt. "If you gradually reduce the amount of salt in your diet, within a few weeks the foods you used to eat will actually taste too salty," says Stephen Daniels, M.D., chief pediatrician at the Children's Hospital in Denver.

Do you kids crave salt? Do you try to watch how much sodium they consume? Leave a comment.