In a recent study administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the CDC examined more than 1,115 ready-to-eat toddlers' meals. Of the over 1,000 meals studied, researchers concluded that nearly three-quarters were high in salt, with some containing as much as 630 milligrams of sodium per serving (which is about 40 percent of the recommended daily sodium intake for children, recommended by the American Heart Association).
The findings raise a red flag for government researchers because high salt intake is known to increase the risk of high blood pressure. Though high blood pressure is most commonly found in adults, it is common in children as well.
Joyce Maalouf, study researcher, said of the alarming results, "Children are not born with a taste for salt. The less sodium children consume, the less they will want it."
For the purposes of the study, researchers examined the nutrition labels on ready-to-eat meals for babies (less than 1 year old) and toddlers, ages 1 to 3 years old. Meals containing more than 210 milligrams of salt per serving — which is about one-seventh of the daily recommendation — were considered to be high in salt.
When researchers tested 600 baby meals, they found that only one meal had more than 210 mg of sodium.
The latest findings worry researchers because in 2012, the study found that the average daily salt intake was 2,307 mg for children ages 2 to 5. In order to remedy the situation, the CDC recommends that children eat a diet rich in vegetables and fruits. The CDC also encourages parents to read nutrition labels and make educated decisions when chooses foods with low sodium intake.
How do you choose ready-made meals for your toddlers?