The Buzz: High Sodium Intake Causes High Blood Pressure In Children

What They’re Saying
Overweight and obese children and adolescents following high-sodium diets may be at greater risk for developing pre-hypertension and hypertension.

What We Know

The U.S. dietary recommendation is to consume not more than 2,300mg of sodium per day.  This is not an easy task for some.  Processed foods generally contain higher amounts of sodium where less refined products are generally lower in sodium.  Lunch meats, cheeses, commercially-prepared meals, breads, canned soups, and certain condiments are all high in sodium.  Fruits and vegetables are naturally lower in sodium. High-sodium diets are positively correlated to pre-hypertension and hypertension (high blood pressure).  Hypertension can lead to coronary heart disease, heart failure, stroke, and kidney failure.  Those who are obese are at greater risk for hypertension.  A recent study has found that the link between high-sodium diets and hypertension in overweight and obese children may be greater than initially thought.

How Do We Know This?

A new study has found that overweight and obese children and adolescents following high-sodium diets may be at greater risk for developing pre-hypertension and hypertension.  The study looked only at each participant’s sodium intake and not the quality of the diet as a whole.  It found that the average child was consuming nearly 3,400mg of sodium per day.  Overweight children with the highest levels of sodium consumption had at least 3.5 times the risk of developing hypertension when compared to normal weight children with the lowest levels of sodium consumption.*
Our Advice

A diet rich in fruits and vegetables, along with whole grains and exercise, can help your body grow strong and may help to prevent disease.  Remember variety is key when it comes to fruits and vegetables.  All forms of fruits and vegetables are important to help you meet your goal of making half your plate fruits and veggies.  
Canned vegetables are not the largest source of sodium in the American diet, but if you are concerned about sodium in canned veggies, opt for the “low” or “no sodium/salt added” versions, or drain and rinse them with water to cut sodium by almost half.  Use a minimal amount of salt when cooking. 
Try removing the salt shaker from the dinner table to avoid adding excess sodium into your diet.  (Although putting a little bit of salt on top of your food at the table after it’s cooked, rather than during cooking, can make food taste salty — with less salt — because the salt on top of your food hits your taste buds first!)  Individuals can also adapt to a lower sodium diet over time, so reducing sodium gradually makes it more acceptable!

Be a healthy role model for your children.  Include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in your diet daily. Here are some of the main sources of sodium in the American diet …

  • white breads and pastries
  • snack foods such as corn and potato chips
  • pizza & pasta dishes
  • hot dogs, cold cuts, processed chicken
  • condiments

Check out our Fruit & Vegetable Recipe Search for healthy recipes featuring fruits and vegetables.

*Yang, Quanhe, et al. “Sodium Intake and Blood Pressure Among US Children and Adolescents.” Sodium Intake and Blood Pressure Among US Children and Adolescents. American Academy of Pediatrics, 17 Sept. 2012. Web. 17 Sept. 2012.

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