The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published new findings this week about American children and their escalated salt intake.
The findings show that children are eating as much salt as adults, which is about 1,000 milligrams more than their recommended intake. A Big Mac from McDonald’s has that amount.
Researchers from the CDC studied data on 6,200 kids from 8 to 18 in national health surveys from 2003-08. Over a period of several days, children were asked twice to list the foods they had eaten the previous day, according to the Associated Press. Researchers then calculated salt intake from their answers.
Fifteen percent of the children monitored either had high blood pressure or pre-hypertension, a slightly elevated blood pressure.
Those who ate the most salt were twice as much at risk of having high blood pressure, but the risk was three times as much for overweight or obese children.
Dr. Ayman Arouse, M.D., a pediatrician on the medical staff at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Cleburne, said pre-hypertension has become a relatively common issue.
“It used to be rare and related to disease, but right now, unfortunately, with lifestyle and the obesity epidemic, we’re keeping an eye on blood pressure and seeing kids with high blood pressure,” he said. “We monitor them and do a lot of interventions as far as diets. It’s definitely an issue we have to face on a daily basis.”
Arouse and the CDC said children and adults’ recommended sodium intake is no more than one teaspoon a day, or about 2,300 milligrams. The study showed children were eating 3,300 milligrams on average a day.
Studies have shown that having elevated blood pressure or even just pre-hypertension as a child can lead to potentially premature high heart disease and high blood pressure as an adult, according to the AP.