A new CDC Vital Signs report confirms 90 percent of US children eat more than their recommended amounts of sodium, and 40 percent of the sodium comes from just 10 common foods.
According to the report, children ages six to 18 eat an average of 3,300mg of sodium a day. However, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends children consume no more than 2,300mg of sodium a day.
For the analysis, CCD used data from its 2009-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, in which CDC researchers determined about 43 percent of the sodium children consume comes from the 10 foods they eat most often.
These foods include pizza, bread and rolls, cold cuts/cured meats, savory snacks, sandwiches, cheese, chicken patties/nuggets/tenders, pasta mixed dishes, Mexican mixed dishes and soups.
“Too many children are consuming way too much sodium, and the result will be risks of high blood pressure and heart disease in the future,” says CDC Director Tom Frieden. “Most sodium is from processed and restaurant food, not the salt shaker. Reducing sodium intake will help our children avoid tragic and expensive health problems.”
According to CDC, approximately 65 percent of the sodium comes from store foods, 13 percent from fast food and pizza restaurant foods, and 9 percent from school cafeteria foods.
CDC advocates that parents take a proactive approach by changing their children’s diets to one that is high in fruits and vegetables without added sodium.
Schools and school districts should implement food purchasing policies and standards that reduce sodium in foods and put lower-sodium alternatives in vending machines, school stores and cafeterias.
According to a new poll of parents with school-aged children—conducted by The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the American Heart Association (AHA)—parents support national nutrition standards for school food by a three-to-one margin.
“Thanks to the Healthy, Hunger-free Kids Act and the work of schools across the country, students are now receiving healthier meals and snacks featuring less sodium, sugar and fat and more whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean protein and low-fat dairy,” says Kevin Concannon, under secretary for USDA’s Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services. “This report demonstrates the importance of continuing to move forward in our efforts to improve nutrition in schools, and to ensure that children and teens nationwide have access to safe, nutritious meals and snacks during the school day.”