CDC Says Kids Are Just Like Their Parents And Are Eating Way Too Much Salt Every Day

We can see it now — no more salt shakers in New York City. That probably won’t happen (right, Mayor Bloomberg?) but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says in a new study that American kids are eating way too much salt, just like their grown-up counterparts. Children are ingesting around 1,000 milligrams of salt more than they should be, which is the sodium equivalent of a Big Mac.

That salt overdose is tied to higher blood pressure, especially for kids who are already overweight and obese, reports CBS. It’s usually adults who are studied for salt intake and how it effects weight and blood pressure, but this time the spotlight was turned on 6,200 children ranging from the ages of 8 to 18.

The findings show that over all 15% of kids had either high blood pressure or prehypertension, and those who ate the most salt were more likely of having elevated blood pressure. In that study, 37% of kids were overweight or obese, and they had triple the risk for high blood pressure.

We’re only supposed to be eating 1 teaspoon of salt a day at the most, which is around 2,300 milligrams, but kids in the study were chowing down on an average of 3,400 milligrams. Past research has shown that elevated blood pressure in childhood could make it more likely that they’ll have high blood pressure or premature heart disease later in life.

The CDC’s advice for kids echoes the sensible advice usually handed out to adults — eat less salty snacks, processed goodies and junk food and instead reach for fruits and vegetables without sauce.

Kids eat too much salt and it’s raising their blood pressure, CDC study finds [CBS News]

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  1. StatusfriedCrustomer says:

    Children are also crying less than they used to, so they are not losing as much salt through tears.

  2. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    I’m by no means the health food police, but geez, I wish companies would cut back on the salt in products. Is it really necessary to cram so much sodium in food? If it’s being used as a cheap filler and to cover up bad chemical tastes, perhaps it’s time to revisit how food is made.

    • Necoras says:

      It’s not so much to cover up bad tastes, but to give something any taste at all. The human tongue responds very strongly to sugar and salt, so cheap food manufacturers put a lot of it in there to make it taste “better.”

      That said, some companies are decreasing the average amount of salt, sugar, fat, etc. in their foods: http://www.npr.org/2012/09/13/161103609/stealth-changes-to-fast-food-may-combat-obesity

      The trick is that it has to be done slowly so that the population doesn’t notice. It’s the same concept as the grocery shrink ray. If you remove 25% of the salt overnight, everyone will immediately say “this tastes gross, I’m not eating here anymore.” But if you do it over a few years, nobody notices and everyone’s a little bit healthier.

      • bityard says:

        I must be overly sensitive to salt and sugar compared to the general population, because I can’t stand how salty/sugary most food is these days.

        I can’t eat potato chips because when I eat them, all I can taste is crunchy salt. I would be Lardy McFatterton if any company made low-salt, low-fat potato chips where one can actually taste the potato. The closest I’ve found yet are Baked Lays, but even those are a bit much. (And at $4/bag, too expensive for regular consumption anyway.)

        We have a young daughter and my wife buys juice. Every single juice we’ve tried, from the frozen concentrate to the organic has been way too sweet. We have to dilute these by as much 2 to 4 times just to get them down to a comfortable, and thereby tasty, sweetness. (As a nice bonus, we get between 2 and 4 bottles for the price of one.)

        • MuleHeadJoe says:

          One does not buy potato chips to taste the *potato* … the potato is merely there to be a physical matrix binding the salt and oil so you may eat what you came for without a spoon.

        • Such an Interesting Monster says:

          Many companies make low or no-salt varieties of chips. I tend to prefer them myself.

    • edman007 says:

      To be profitable, yes, the chicken that was injected with brine tastes better and sells better (and the added weight bumps up the weight they can list), increasing profits, the bread with extra salt has a longer shelf life yet they can still call it “presertive free”.

  3. GitEmSteveDaveHatesChange says:

    So instead of eating a teaspoon of salt a day, we are eating a teaspoon and a third? Perhaps it’s because food today is too bland, and they need salt to liven it up?

    • crispyduck13 says:

      Perhaps it’s because food today is too bland, and they need salt to liven it up?

      Well, no. Salt and sugar are seasonings that people get used to, that is – the more salty or sweet stuff you eat on a daily basis the less you detect something is “salty” or “sweet”, it becomes a normal baseline taste for you. So if you then go and eat some plain cornflakes for breakfast it would taste jarringly bland because you’re so used to the higher levels of salt or sugar.

      If the best you can do for your kids everynight is fast food, Hamburger Helper, Chef Boyardee, etc, they will become used to such a high sodium content and will continue to want that level in all the foods they eat.

      I eat very little processed and fast food, so when I do eat something like McDonald’s fries (which are delicious in moderation) they taste very, very salty to me and I can’t eat a lot of them.

      • RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

        I agree. My mom did not cook with salt when we were kids. She’d tell us the food had plenty of flavor, but if we wanted we could add a little salt at the table. And since we rarely had fast foods or processed foods, I grew up finding most foods, even homemade ones, far too salty.

        Now, my mom had the luxury of being a stay-at-home-mom, so I’m not knocking parents who are trying to work and feed their kids, and all-around just get through and still try to do what’s best. But you can learn to love the real taste of foods without as much salt.

        To add to the not salting food as you cook it, I noticed that when I worked at restaurants through high school and college, most people would get their food and immediately salt it without even tasting it. If the cook also salted the dish in cooking (via salting sauces, gravies, broths and stocks) to his or her taste, the customers were getting a double-dose right off the bat just because they didn’t taste it first. A lot of it is conditioning or habit to just pick up the shaker.

      • Such an Interesting Monster says:

        Well we already know that one of the reasons there is so much sodium and sugar in our processed foods is because of the low quality of the other ingredients. The extra salt and sugar serves to make it taste acceptable as well as giving it cheap added bulk.

  4. unpolloloco says:

    That’s all assuming the FDA is right on their recommended salt intake, where there is good evidence to say they are wrong: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=its-time-to-end-the-war-on-salt

    • Cor Aquilonis says:

      Since your fact-based analysis contradicts my opinions which are based on such scholarly works as “Self” magazine and cable morning shows, I will disregard your reality and substitute my own.

  5. StatusfriedCrustomer says:

    Salt itself isn’t so bad; the problem is that having had it, you crave more of it, leading you to fast-food and other types of foods which contain it. Unfortunately, these foods contain lots of other unhealthy stuff so it becomes a comorbid health problem.

  6. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Would be solved if we reduced it in all that packaged food.

    • Such an Interesting Monster says:

      Which would make it taste much worse than it already does. Do you really think companies are going to willingly improve the quality of their cheap foods to make up for the lack of salt?

  7. HogwartsProfessor says:

    It’s not salt from salt shakers that is the problem; it’s ADDED salt in processed foods!

    Stop eating so much processed stuff and you’ll cut the salt way down. The reason it’s in there is because processing kills the taste. So what they need to do is find a way to reduce the COSTS of eating healthier food, so that this is feasible for poor people. But noooooooo let’s waste money banning sodas and such.

    • who? says:

      Yes, exactly. It’s the amount of processed and restaurant foods people (not just kids) are eating. The salt problem is *rare* for people who eat home cooked food.

  8. RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:
    • perruptor says:

      Also:
      “…which is the sodium equivalent of a Big Mac.”

      Can we not have that inedible pile-of-crap imitation of a hamburger be the standard unit in every story about nutrition, please?

  9. Such an Interesting Monster says:

    Yeah, don’t give Mayor Napoleon Bonaberg any ideas, mmmkay?