This month’s Vital Signs report looks at how much sodium children eat and what are the most common foods contributing to their sodium intake. More than 90 percent of school-aged children in the U.S. eat too much sodium and one in six children already has raised blood pressure. High blood pressure is a major cause for cause of heart disease and stroke in adults.
CDC researchers determined that about 43 percent of sodium that children eat daily comes from the 10 foods they eat most often: pizza, bread and rolls, cold cuts/cured meats, savory snacks, sandwiches, cheese, chicken patties/nuggets/tenders, pasta mixed dishes, Mexican mixed dishes, and soups. The source of the data comes from CDC’s 2009-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
The good news is we can do something about the problem if we work together. The taste for salt is established through diet at a young age.
At the grocery store, read the Nutrition Facts labels and choose the lowest sodium option.
That’s important not just for the cereal or frozen dinner you might be buying, but also in foods like mayonnaise, canned tomatoes and soy sauce you may use in preparing meals.
Tell your grocery store manager you’d like more low sodium options of your family’s favorite foods, and when they make it to the shelf, buy them.
When you’re eating out, ask for nutrition information and look it over with your children. If you choose a lower-sodium option, chances are your children will, too.
Less salt doesn’t mean less flavor. Herbs, spices and even citrus can help season any dish. And the good news is it doesn’t take long for our taste buds to adjust to less salt.
CDC is working with the food industry to reduce sodium in food and drink products—and we’re working with schools and school districts as they implement changes to serve healthier food in school meals and vending machines.
There’s no better time than today to make the choice to eat better an easy choice for your children. The benefits will really add up over their lifetimes—and it won’t add to their weight and blood pressure!
Check out the Vital Signs report titled Reducing Sodium in Children’s Diets to learn how you can help our children avoid health problems in the future.