Sodium and Children

heartConcerns about sodium and its link to high blood pressure and heart disease are most commonly found among people who are middle age and older. However, according to the CDC, about 90% of US children ages 6-18 eat too much sodium daily and 1 in 6 children has high blood pressure (source).

When we think about the foods that kids tend to be most fond of this all makes sense. Pizza, cheese and chicken nuggets often include a great deal of sodium. So what can we do? Here are some tips that will help reduce the amount of sodium everyone in your family eats:

  1. Cook at home as much as possible. Visit the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. recipe site for great home cooking ideas. Restaurant dishes are typically very high in sodium and in most restaurants you can’t see the nutrition information when you order. Many restaurants do have nutrition information on their websites, so you can compare dishes before you go.
  2. When cooking at home, try different spices and herbs instead of salt.
  3. Check the Nutrition Facts labels when you buy foods at the grocery store. Choose brands and types with lower sodium. Many will even be marked ‘low sodium’ or ‘no salt added’.
  4. Eat more foods that are naturally low in sodium like fruits and vegetables.
  5. Model healthy eating for your family. If you choose healthy foods and tell your children why you make those choices, it is likely they will follow your lead in time.

If you are interested in more detailed information about sodium in children’s diets, the CDC has a helpful website. Visit http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/children-sodium/.

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek is a State Nutrition Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She coordinates ISU’s programs which help families with low income make healthy choices with limited food budgets. Christine loves helping families learn to prepare healthy foods, have fun in the kitchen and save money. In her spare time, Christine enjoys cooking, entertaining and cheering on her favorite college football teams with her family and friends.

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2 thoughts on “Sodium and Children

  1. It’s true that the restaurant foods are high in sodium and most of the frozen ready to eat meals in the grocery store. Although, it is quit convenient to buy ready made meals for busy days but they are all processed and full of sodium. I like your tip of using other spices and herbs instead of salt. I definitely don’t want my kids to end up with a heart disease or high blood pressure. School provided lunches are full of sodium as well.

  2. Thanks, Kat. Schools have made and continue to make big steps to make school meals as healthy as possible. The new school meal standards have 3 sodium-reducing targets over the next 10 years. Schools are an important player in overall national efforts to reduce the amount of salt that people eat. As such, schools participating in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs will continue to reduce the amount of salt in meals by choosing lower sodium versions of foods and flavoring foods with spices and herbs.

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