Children in the USA are eating as much salt as adults, putting them at 2-3 higher risk of developing high blood pressure, according to a newly-published report.
The diets of over 6,000 children aged between 8 and eighteen were analysed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who found that the average child consumed 3,400 milligrams of salt per day – about the same as the average adult. The range was 1,300 to 8,100 grams. US government guidelines recommend consumption of less than 2,300 milligrams.
The study compared children’s salt consumption with their blood pressure and found that, for every 1,000 milligrams of extra sodium in children’s diets, there was a one point increase in blood pressure. In children who were overweight, the increase was 1.5 points.
Also noted was an apparent correlation between salt consumption and weight: children who consumed the most salt and were also overweight or obese had more than three times the risk of high blood pressure compared with those who consumed the least salt.
Commentators point out that there may not be a causal connection between elevated consumption of salt and increased blood pressure, but that the pattern may be indicative of a generally unhealthy diet with, for example, a preponderance of fast- and processed food.
The fear is that elevated blood pressure at a young age is likely to increase the likelihood of cardiovascular problems in maturity.
The study was reported in the journal Pediatrics.