In a study by the Deakin University, it was found that 7 in ten children in Australia consume more than the recommended upper limit of salt each day. This, according to the researchers, is putting their health to serious risks. Many children in UK are also taking too much salt.
Salt is everywhere
Most foods that we eat on a daily basis contain salt. It’s found in breads, pastas, cereals, sandwiches, sausages, and all other instant meals. We also put a small amount of salt to our usual meals to enrich their taste. In fact, just one hotdog contains 80% of the maximum recommended sodium for an eight year-old!
However, too much salt could lead to various health problems. High sodium intake is linked to high blood pressure – a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
Adults should not consume more than 6 grams of salt every day. Children ages 11 and above should keep their sodium consumption for up to 2.4g; babies 1 to 3 years old are only allowed to eat up to 0.8g of salt while 4-6 year-olds should only consume 1.2g. Moreover, kids 7-10 years must not exceed 2g of sodium every day.
Most children eat more than the maximum salt limit
However, it appears that majority of children overdo their salt intake. Researchers from Deakin’s Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition found that 320 government school children ages 4-12 years, are consuming four times more salt than their body require.
These children, according to Caryl Nowson, Nutrition Professor at Deakin, are at risk of long-term serious health problems like high blood pressure. Also, high levels of salt are a major factor in the increasing rate of obesity among children.
The problem is that salt is a main ingredient of many foods that are given to children, such as cheese, bread, and breakfast cereals. And often, parents get difficulty finding alternatives to these staples, Nowson explains.
Past studies revealed that children coming from lower socioeconomic backgrounds tend to consume more processed foods that are high in salt as compared to kids from high socioeconomic backgrounds. Because of this, the researchers expected that there will be lower salt consumption among independent school children. However, past research has shown that 70% of children from independent primary schools were eating higher than the recommended amount of salt.
According to the researchers, their findings will provide important proof needed to inform the government for future food industry policies that will benefit children’s health.
How to lower down your child’s salt consumption
Being aware of the foods that are naturally high in salt is one way to manage your child’s sodium consumption. Fortunately, nutrition labelling on product packaging makes it easy. These labels provide information regarding the sodium content so when shopping, don’t forget to take a look at them.
Other than those mentioned in the study, foods that are high in salt also include bacon, anchovies, ham, salt fish, roasted/salted nuts, soy sauce, and smoked fish or meat. Cutting down your child’s consumption of these products will prevent them from taking too much salt.
Sources of this article:
Study finds most children eat four times the daily salt limit, Deakin University
Salt: the facts, NHS Choices