WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
About 9 in 10 U.S. children eat too much sodium daily, placing them at a higher risk of developing high blood pressure.
WHAT WE KNOW
High or raised blood pressure in children younger than 10 years old is generally caused by another medical condition. However, raised blood pressure in children may also develop for the same reasons it does in adults — being overweight, eating a poor diet and not exercising.1 About 90% of children 6-18 eat too much salt each day, and 1 in 6 has raised blood pressure as a result.2 Untreated high blood pressure can eventually lead to damage to the heart, brain, kidneys, and eyes.3 Additionally, it is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke for adults and children alike.
Most sodium is already in food before you buy it or order it. About 65% comes from store foods, 13% from fast food, and 9% from school cafeterias. Nearly 43% of sodium eaten by children comes from just 10 common food types:
- Bread & Rolls
- Cold Cuts & Cured Meats
- Sandwiches (such as cheeseburgers)
- Snacks (such as chips)
- Chicken Patties, Nuggets & Tenders
- Pasta Mixed Dishes (such as spaghetti)
- Mexican Dishes (such as tacos)
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that children eat less than 2,300 mg per day. Typically, children are consuming an average of 3,300 mg – and this is before salt is added at the table! Parents who are interested in helping their children make healthier choices can significantly cut down on sodium intake by comparing Nutrition Facts labels to choose the lowest sodium options. The home eating environment is a critical aspect of your child’s diet and keeping healthy, low-sodium options on hand is a fundamental element in the fight against high blood pressure for your children. Simple changes can have a big impact.
9 Ways Parents Can Help Lower Sodium in Their Children’s Diets
- Model healthy eating for your children by eating a diet filled with fruits and vegetables.
- Ask your grocery manager to provide more low-sodium options.
- Request nutrition information from your server when dining out to make lower-sodium choices.
- When cooking at home, try different spices, herbs, and vegetables instead of salt. Check out these guidelines for replacing salt with lemon juice or zest in recipes.
- Fill half the plate with fruits and vegetables during every meal.
- Use herbs instead of salt to add flavor when cooking.
- Pack , instead of crackers and chips.
- Check out our Sodium in Fruits & Vegetables list.
- Understand how to decide which canned foods to purchase.
Video Center: Selection. Storage. Preparation.
How Many Cups Do You Need?
Key Nutrients in Fruits & Vegetables
Fruit & Veggie Database