Our kids can’t seem to catch a break when it comes to their diet. New research is pointing to an elevated consumption of sodium in children that’s leading to another childhood health issue: high blood pressure.
Just like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure was once thought of as an adult disease – something that happened to adults who spent a lifetime of shaking too much salt on their food and getting too little exercise. It seems this isn’t true anymore.
NPR’s food blog, “The Salt,” reported about new findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The new research found that children between age 8 to 18 are taking in nearly 1,000 more milligrams of sodium than is recommended and this is resulting in high blood pressure.
In fact, 15 percent of the children in the study were found to have high or elevated blood pressure. It’s important to note that the association with high blood pressure was higher in those children who were also overweight.
What’s interesting about these statistics is that these kids aren’t getting their sodium from too many shakes of the salt shaker, which may be the culprit for their grandparents; they’re getting too much sodium from the abundance of processed foods in their diets.
Dr. Josh Umbehr, a practicing physician in Wichita, KS, agrees that food is is most likely the culprit. While the shaker is a common source, he says the majority of the issues stem from the food we consume.
Dr. Sherry Pagoto of FUDiet.com agrees, saying that processed foods can lead to an affinity for salty taste which can then lead to a bigger need for the shaker. Pagoto also mentioned that the need for salty foods can come from a child’s early experiences with food. Essentially, if a baby or toddler is given salty, processed foods from the start, they prefer that taste. Furthermore, Pagoto pointed out that salt has been a common factor in food addiction. It’s no wonder there’s such an issue; salt is a serious ingredient.
Obviously, avoiding processed foods like chicken nuggets, pre-made frozen meals, boxed meals, lunch meats, and any fast-food fried item, will help cut down on your child’s sodium intake. The DASH Diet is helpful in reducing high blood pressure, if your child has already reached an elevated state. It’s also important to consider factors like the child’s weight, activity level, and even family history and ethnicity. These are all contributors to high blood pressure as well.
High blood pressure is not something anyone wants to battle. However, if a rising number of children are seeing this as their newest health concern, they need even more help than before. Our kids deserve to get a fighting start at a healthy life.