Salt Intake, A Threat To Youngsters

It is a known fact that consuming too much salt and not exercising enough increases blood pressure and puts people at a high risk of stroke and heart disease. A new study has indicated that youngsters today thrive on fast foods and takeaways that are very high in salt content, thus putting these youngsters at an increased risk of developing lifestyle diseases.

New research has found that one in six under-18s eat a ready meal or a takeaway every day. On an average, children have at least three such meals a week. Based on the findings of this study, parents are now being urged to encourage their children to adopt healthier eating habits and check food labels before buying products.

Official advice is that one to three-year-olds should eat no more than 2g of salt a day, with a 3g limit for four to six-year-olds, and 5g for seven to 10-year-olds. Children over 11 and adults can safely eat up to 6g of salt a day. A startling revelation showed that more than a third of salt is hidden in foodstuffs such as cereals and white and brown bread, making it critical for children to be more responsible about the food they consume.

Joe Korner, spokesman for The Stroke Association, who conducted the poll, says children need to break the high salt habit early. He warned: “It’s a lifetime of eating lots of salt that contributes to high blood pressure and strokes in later years.”

Nutritionist Katharine Jenner, campaign manager for Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH), says most people realise salt can be bad for their health but just don’t do anything about it. She warned: “Young people feel like it’s not relevant to them, but blood pressure starts to increase early in life. The key is for parents to be aware of what children are eating throughout the day, and not just at dinnertime. Salt is an acquired taste, and if parents are always putting it in food children become used to its flavour. But if they cut back on salt really slowly, kids won’t notice the reduction at all.”

Written by Snigdha Taduri