Avoiding Excess Salty Food for Children0
By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel
Children soon will be home for the summer, and that often means more time for snacking. When we think about salt consumption, most worry about an adult’s diet and give less thought to what our children are eating. A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) discovered that more than 90 percent of American children consume too much sodium. According to the study, foods such as chicken nuggets, pizza and pasta account for almost half of their sodium intake. The researchers interviewed and examined more than 2,000 children ages six through eighteen for this ongoing study.
Some of the foods that are frequently marketed to kids at restaurants and grocery stores include pizza, breads, cheese, soups, pasta, cold cuts, savory snacks, and Mexican mixed dishes. Fast food restaurants and some school cafeterias also serve foods that are high in sodium. At home, dinner appears 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 has elevated blood pressure, a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. In our hectic life, we often look for easy-to-prepare foods or stop at fast food chains occasionally when time is short in-between school and sports events. Unfortunately, there are health consequences if too much high-sodium food is consumed.
How can parents reduce sodium intake for their children? We can model healthy eating by offering kids plenty of fruits and vegetables without added salt. Read product labels, choosing foods with the lowest sodium levels. Restaurants can replace sodium with alternatives like spices, herbs, and citrus juices. If you request low sodium meals, most establishments will fulfill your request. Avoid sauces such as soy, teriyaki, ketchup, barbeque, and salad dressings, which can be high in sodium. A small squeeze instead of a large amount can make a huge difference!
The American Heart Association (AHA) is working to help kids and families live heart-healthy lives.
For information on how to keep your family healthy and active, visit: www.heart.org/kids
The AHA is devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke, America’s leading killers. The Dallas-based association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-800-AHA-USA1, visit: www.heart.org or call any of their offices around the country.