Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Kids eat as much salt as adults and double their risk of hypertension

CHICAGO (AP) - American children eat the same amount of salt as adults, 1,000 milligrams in excess, ie the same amount that exists in only one Big Mac Extra salt is associated with increased blood pressure, even in children, but a government investigation in the United States points out that those who are overweight and obese may be most vulnerable to its effects.

The new findings by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, for its acronym in English) were published Monday in the online version of the journal Pediatrics (Pediatrics). Previous studies have shown similar results in adults, but studies on salt, weight and blood pressure are rare in children.

The CDC researchers analyzed data on 6,200 children aged 8 to 18 who participated in national health surveys 2003-2008. Minors detailing asked twice for several days the foods they ate yesterday. The researchers estimated salt intake from their responses.

In total, 15% had high blood pressure called prehypertension or slightly elevated.

Those who ate more salt faced twice the risk of having high blood pressure, compared to those who ate less salty food. But among children obese or overweight, the risk tripled.

The recommended daily intake of salt or sodium for adults and children is no more than a tablespoon a day, or about 2,300 milligrams. On average, children in the study ate 3300 milligrams daily.

Quanhe Yang, a researcher at the CDC, said it is not clear why more weight children are more sensitive to salt, but may be due to hormonal changes related to obesity. The results raise concern because other studies have shown that elevated blood pressure in childhood, and even pre-hypertension, can lead to hypertension as adults and potentially premature heart disease.

Prehypertension and high blood pressure in people under 17 depend on the age, weight and gender.

In those over 18 years, levels between 120 over 80 and 140 over 90 is prehypertension, whereas 140 over 90 or higher is high blood pressure.

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