The National Institutes of Health conducted a study which found that children who were obese and taking in an excess amount of salt were likely to suffer from elevated blood pressure. There were more than 3,200 youths between the ages of 8 and 17 who participated in the research. Other findings included:
- Between the two studies conducted, boys were more likely to develop high blood pressure.
- Children who had body mass or waistline measurements that were in the top 25 percentile for their age group were more likely to suffer from elevated blood pressure than those in the bottom 25 percent.
- Those who had higher sodium intakes were at a 36 percent greater risk for having high blood pressure.
Perhaps the largest contributing factor here was the level of sodium intake among children. Although the American Heart Association recommends 1,500 milligrams or less of sodium daily, the average American consumes 3,400. The main contributing factor in this is processed foods that are purchased at the grocery store and meals served in restaurants.
In order to reduce blood pressure in children, it is recommended that their sodium intake is limited. Children are only diagnosed with high blood pressure once they have submitted three consecutive readings indicating so. It's important for parents to be aware of what children are consuming, because this diagnosis can lead to later health concerns like stroke, heart disease and kidney failure.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have set up strategies for schools to reduce the levels of sodium in hot lunches that are served to students. In addition, the United States Department of Agriculture is now closely regulating the amount of fat, salt, sugar and calories found in vending machine foods at schools.