Toddlers Meals and Snacks Packed with Salt

Published 03/25 2013 05:00AM

Updated 03/29 2013 03:07PM

New research from the Harvard School of Public Health says that one in 10 Americans die from eating too much salt. . Excessive salt consumption is linked to cardiovascular disease and has traditionally been associated with older adults. However researchers noted that younger people are now showing the same health problems from too much salt such as high blood pressure, stroke and heart attack.

The problem is that salt is used in just about all packaged and processed foods. Over the years producers have added more and more salt for flavoring,

And now a new study now shows that meals and snacks marketed to toddlers have more than the recommended amount of sodium, meaning that children as young as one are most likely eating far too much salt early in life.

There is scientific evidence that a childs salt intake is related to whether he or she will develop high blood pressure (hypertension) as an adult. Hypertension is a major risk factor of heart disease " the number one killer of men and women in the United 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," explains Joyce Maalouf, the study's lead author and a fellow at the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"But the products marketed to toddlers were significantly higher in sodium: more than 75% of the toddler meals and snacks had high sodium content."

The research team reviewed more than 1,100 products marketed to babies and toddlers and sold in grocery stores. If a product had more than 210 milligrams of sodium preserving it was defined as high in sodium. The rating is based on guidelines by the Institute of Medicine and

Some meals tested as high as 630 milligrams of sodium per serving. Cereals and savory snacks tested highest in sodium compared to cereal bars and fruit snacks.

Name brands were not named in the study, but Maalouf said "We're talking meals that are pre-packed ... like mac and cheese, pasta with meat sauce, pizza, or chicken and vegetables".  He noted that the meals are not frozen meals but the kind that are microwavable.

"These meals are not the only meal that kids will eat," says Maalouf. "They're growing, they're always snacking. So they're eating seven to eight servings and meals per day."

Nutritionist suggest that parents read the labels on any prepackaged foods they buy for their child, and shop the outer aisles of the grocery store where fresh vegetables, fruits, dairy, and fresh meat and poultry are kept.

The study was presented at the American Heart Associations Epidemiology and Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism 2013 Scientific Sessions in New Orleans.

Source: Caitlin Hagan,

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