Parents of picky toddlers who eschew fruits and veggies in favor of pre-packaged pizza and pasta need to be more vigilant about reading food labels. New research reveals these salt-laden foods can have long-lasting effects, according to both CNN and NPR.
In a study of more than 1,100 pre-packaged meals and snacks aimed at toddlers, lead author Joyce Maalouf found that more than 75 percent contained too much sodium.
But how much is too much?
Children between the ages of 1 and 3 should consume less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day, according to the USDA. Thus, Maalouf determined that any product boasting more than 210 milligrams per serving was too much, since, she says, "These meals are not the only meal that kids will eat. They're growing, they're always snacking. So they're eating seven to eight servings and meals per day."
Though Maalouf won't name the super salty offenders, the CDC has identified cold cuts, soups, pizza, pasta, hot dogs, sausage — even chicken — as the biggest culprits.
"Public health officials worry about excessive salt in children's food because it gets them used to eating too much," says NPR's Nancy Shute. "Last year a CDC study found that … overweight or obese children particularly likely to eat more salt."
In addition to the myriad of health problems obesity can cause, researchers have found a link between a child's salt intake and hypertension as an adult, writes CNN Medical Producer Caitlin Hagan.
Since cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in this country, parents should foster good eating habits early on to prevent their children from suffering adverse health effects down the road.
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