Toddler Meals Contain Too Much Salt

According to several studies on sodium, the packaged snacks and meals being given to toddlers contain more than the recommended amounts of sodium per serving.  The results of this research means children who are as young as a year old are probably eating too much salt early in their lives.

The research was presented at the American Heart Association's Epidemiology and Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism 2013 Scientific Sessions.  The seminars were held in the United States in New Orleans.

Researchers were alarmed at the findings as there is evidence a child's sodium intake is directly related to the likelihood that he or she will then develop hypertension when they reach adulthood.  Hypterension is the number one killer of men and women in the United States and is also a major risk factor of cardiovascular disease.

The study's lead author, Joyce Maalouf, states, "The good news is that commercial foods for babies, when they start complimentary feeding from 4 to 12 months . . . are relatively low in sodium."  Maalouf is a fellow at the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

However, the products marketed for toddler consumption were found to be significantly higher in sodium.  In fact, more than 75 percent of the toddler snacks and meals were shown to have high sodium content.

Maalouf and her associates reviewed more than 1,100 products specifically for babies and toddlers that were sold in grocery stores.  Products which contained more than 210 milligrams of sodium per serving were defined as being high in sodium.

Savory snacks and meals had the highest amounts of sodium, as compared to fruit snacks and cereal bars.  Some of the meals for toddlers contained more than 630 milligrams of sodium per serving.

According to Maalouf, "We're talking meals that are pre-packed . . . like mac and cheese, pasta with meat sauce, pizza, or chicken and vegetables.  These are not frozen meals, they're usually microwavable."

Recommendations by the USDA are that toddlers between the ages of 1 and 3 consume just 1,000 to 1,500 milligrams of sodium daily.

Maalouf suggests that parents be more aware of how much salt their young children are consuming.  She encourages everyone to read nutrition labels before purchasing pre-packaged snacks and meals for children.

Other studies presented at the meeting focused on the effects of too much sodium globally.  According to one, the average intake of sodium was 4,000 milligrams a day in 2010 among three-quarters of the world's population.  That number is double the recommendation of the World Health Organization, which suggests a daily intake of 2,000 milligrams of sodium per day.

Posted in Toddler Meals Contain Too Much Salt

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