Monday, April 29, 2013

Why High Salt Consumption Is Undesirable For Kids?

Human needs salt (sodium) to control the amount of water in the body, maintain the normal pH of blood, transmit nerve signals and help muscular contraction. Too much salt intake can, however, lead to many medical disorders including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and kidney disease.

In the United States, the recommended daily salt intake should not exceed 2,300 mg for normal adults, or 1,500 mg for people age 51 or older, or have high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease. Babies and children should consume less salt than adults. According to Institute of Medicine, the suggested salt intake for children age between 1 and 3 is 1000 mg, between 4 and 8 is 1200 mg, and between 9 and 50 is 1500 mg. High salt intake in babies can be especially dangerous because their kidneys cannot cope with large amount of salt.

A study, which was published on September 17, 2012 in the science review ‘Pediatrics’, reported that children in the United States consume too much salt. Conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the study found that kids age between 8 and 18 consumed an average of 3,387 mg a day.

After monitoring diets of 6,235 youngsters, the researchers found that their sodium intake was about the same as that of adults, with more than three-quarters of the salt coming from processed and fast foods.

Consuming too much salt can eventually lead to high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke and many other medical disorders. The risk of high blood pressure was particularly high among overweight and obese youths.

While high blood pressure is used to be an adult illness, it is now affecting more young people because of high salt diets and increasing obesity. Though the new nutrition standards for school meals are helping, the progress is slow. As indicated in the study, it is necessary to move faster because the kids are on an early path to heart disease and stroke.

DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), a dietary pattern promoted by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute in the United States, has been shown to lower blood pressure in both teens and adults. Some studies even showed that it could help reduce weight or even lower risk of diabetes.

The experts, therefore, recommend that kids should be encouraged to adopt DASH diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy foods; includes meat, fish, poultry, nuts and beans; and is limited in sugar-sweetened foods and beverages, red meat, and added fats.

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