Salty Foods Linked to High Blood Pressure in Kids

By Lisa Franchi on September 18, 2012

Before, high blood pressure is a problem that bothers only the adult population, particularly those in their middle years.  But today, it also affects a significant portion of the youth and the rate is increasing. High blood pressure is linked to heart attack and stroke.

Kids are eating more salt

High sodium intake appears to be a major factor that contributes to high blood pressure in children. In a new study, it was found that the average sodium intake of children and teens in the US were 3,400mg, which is twice the recommended daily intake (1,500mg).

The study involved 6,235 children and teens. Over 37% of them were overweight and 15% had either high blood pressure or blood pressure that is beyond the normal level yet is not considered high. As part of the research, the subjects were asked to recall what foods they have eaten for the last 24 hours.

The researchers noted that for over 1,000mg increase in salt intake raises the risk of high blood or pre-high blood pressure twice. But for those who were obese, the increase is 3.5 percent.

Processed foods, fast food meals, and school lunches contain high amounts of sodium. They also contain other chemicals that could potentially harm the body. In an earlier study, it was found that a typical school lunch contains 1,442 mg of sodium.

Experts are very concerned about the effects of high sodium consumption among kids and teenagers. Paediatric cardiologist Stephen R. Daniels from the University Of Colorado School Of Medicine and spokesperson of the American Health Association believes that this has public health implications. As kids eat more calories, they almost certainly consume more salt.

Even the foods most consumers consider safe to eat like breads and cereals are very high in salt. Daniels suggests that if the food industry will greatly reduce the salt in their products, it could have a huge impact.

Study Limitations

Some experts think that the findings are unreliable. According to the Satin of the Salt Institute, the study relied on what the participants recalled which can actually stain the reliability of the report. They also suggest that there are other factors that may have led children and teens to high blood pressure, and these include high calorie consumption and less physical activity.

He adds that other aspects of the diets and lifestyles of overweight and obese children, such as eating too many calories or getting too little exercise, may have led to their high blood pressure.

The study will be published in the American Heart Association journal Paediatrics this coming October.


Source of this article:

Sodium Intake and Blood Pressure Among US Children and Adolescents, Yang, Q. Pediatrics, October 2012.

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