Too much salt in childrens' food raises their blood pressure

According to scientists in Britain, children as young as four are eating so much salt it is compromising their health by raising their blood pressure.

Researchers from St George's University of London say parents need to monitor the salt content of their child's food as they have found a significant association of salt intake with systolic blood pressure.

In a new study it has been found that the average four-year-old ate 4.7g a day, which is far above the 2-3g recommended for this age group.

The study of more than 1,600 children ages 4 to 14, was part of an official audit for the Department of Health called the National Diet and Nutrition Survey.

The children kept a diary of what they ate and drank and their salt intake and blood pressure was recorded.

Salt intake did not include salt added in cooking or at the table, although this often occurred.

It was found that the more salt children ate, the higher their blood pressure became; in fact for each extra gram of salt eaten, there was a related increase in systolic blood pressure.

The researchers based their findings on data collected in Britain's National Diet and Nutrition Survey and they believe the results are important because they confirm that eating more salt increases blood pressure.

The findings also lend support to the current public health campaign to reduce salt in the diet.

Experts say reducing salt intake in childhood will very likely translate into lower levels of blood pressure in adulthood and reduce the risk of developing heart disease and stroke.

They say parents need to check labels, especially on foods such as breakfast cereals and snack products, which they may not expect to contain high levels of salt, and choose the lower salt options and they warn parents to look out for the hidden salt in foods.

The study is published in the Journal of Human Hypertension.

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