WASHINGTON: Children in the United States consume too much salt, putting them at risk for hypertension and other health problems, according to a study published Monday in the science review Pediatrics.
The study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that kids between the ages of eight and 18 took in an average of 3,387 milligrams a day of sodium, more than twice the 1,500 daily recommended by doctors.
The study monitored the diets of 6,235 youths and found that their sodium intake was about the same as that of adults, with more than three-quarters of the salt coming from processed and fast foods.
Too much salt is linked to high blood pressure -- a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke and several other problems which were once found almost exclusively in adults, but which are now increasingly seen in children.
The risk of high blood pressure was particularly high among overweight and obese youths, the CDC said.
Health officials in the United States called the study's findings alarming.
"It's very disturbing that this nation's children and teens consume too much salt in their diets at school and home," said Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association (AHA)
"High blood pressure, once viewed as an adult illness is now affecting more young people because of high sodium diets and increasing obesity," she said.
"While new nutrition standards for school meals are helping, progress is slow. This study strongly underscores the need to move faster because our kids are on an early path to heart attacks and strokes."
The AHA urged the US Food and Drug Administration to set mandatory limits on the sodium content of foods and urged federal authorities to make the reduction of sodium a national priority. (AFP)