A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has discovered that more than 90 percent of American children consume too much sodium. Foods such as chicken nuggets, pizza and pasta account for almost half of their sodium intake, according to the study.
The CDC researchers interviewed and examined 2,266 children ages six to 18 as part of the ongoing “What We Eat in America,” the dietary survey of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
Among the findings:
- 43 percent of children’s sodium come from foods frequently marketed to kids at restaurants and grocery stores, including pizza, breads, cheese, soups, pasta, cold cuts, savory snacks, and Mexican mixed dishes;
- 65 percent of kids’ sodium intake came from store foods. Thirteen percent from fast food/pizza restaurants. Nine percent from school cafeterias. And 5 percent from restaurants;
- Dinner appeared to be the saltiest meal of the day, with 39 percent of sodium consumed at dinner compared with 29 percent at lunch, 16 percent during snack time and 15 percent at breakfast;
- One in six kids have elevated blood pressure, a risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
So what can you do to reduce the sodium your kids eat? Here are some tips to lower your child’s risk:
- As a parent, you can model healthy eating by offering your kids plenty of fruits and vegetables without added salt. Look for product labels and choose the one with the lowest sodium.
- Restaurants can replace sodium with alternatives like spices, herbs, and citrus juices. If you ask for a low sodium meal, most establishments will fulfill your request.
- Sauces such as soy, teriyaki, ketchup, bar-be-que, and salad dressings can be high in sodium. A small squeeze instead of a large amount can make a huge difference!
The American Heart Association is working to help kids and families live heart-healthy lives. To find information to keep your family healthy and active, go to heart.org/kids.