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  • David Kirsch

American Kids are way too salty!

Lowering sodium intake by about 40 percent over a decade, the F.D.A. said, could save 500,000 lives! That’s a startling statistic and puts a whole meaning on the phrase “you are salty!” Much of the excess sodium that Americans consume, about 70 percent, comes from processed and packaged food and meals served at restaurants, and bought and consumed from grocery stores according to researchers. Some of our favorite condiments and snacks - ketchup, salad dressing, canned soups, and ready - to - go prepared meals and snacks are the worst culprits.

Health officials also expressed alarm about elevated sodium levels among the young and the consequences that can have later in life.

Susan Mayne, director of the F.D.A’.s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, said more than 95 percent of children 2 to 13 consume more sodium than is recommended. Eating habits, she noted, are set early in life and often persist into adulthood. “This can have profound impacts on later health outcomes,” she said.

Too many children are consuming way too much sodium, and the result will be risks of high blood pressure and heart disease in the future,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “Most sodium is from processed and restaurant food, not the salt shaker. Reducing sodium intake will help our children avoid tragic and expensive health problems.”

Key findings in the Vital Signs report include:

  • U.S. children aged 6 to 18 years eat an average of about 3,300 mg of sodium a day before salt is added at the table. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that children eat less than 2,300 mg per day total.

  • Most sodium is already in food before it is purchased or ordered. Approximately 65 percent comes from store foods, 13 percent from fast food and pizza restaurant foods, and 9 percent from school cafeteria foods.

To illustrate, the following is a list of some of the more popular fast places that kids frequent more often then they should:

1. Chipotle: Burrito

Salt adds up pretty quickly when you’re building a burrito from scratch. A Carnitas, or pork, burrito with white rice, pinto beans, Tomatillo-red chili sauce, Romaine lettuce, sour cream, cheese and guacamole has 2,650 mg of sodium, not to mention 1,185 calories. Surprise: the saltiest item is the soft flour tortilla that holds it all together (at 670 mg of sodium).

2. McDonalds: Big Breakfast with Hotcakes

Big is right. You get scrambled eggs, sausage, hash browns and a small stack of pancakes. Order it with a large-size biscuit and you‘ll be starting the day with 2,260 mg of sodium and 1,150 calories.

3. Chick fil a: Fried Chicken Sandwich

With 440 calories, 19 grams of fat and 1350 milligrams of sodium, the sandwich that helped Chick-fil-A earn its title as America's favorite chicken chain isn't exactly healthy.

4. Taco Bell: Chicken Quesadilla - 11.6 g of saturated fat (58% (DV) saturated fat); 1339 mg of Sodium (89%DV)

5. Pizza Hut - 14" Pepperoni Pizza, Thick Crust, 1 slice, 569 mg sodium

6. Campbell’s - Chicken Noodle Soup - 480 mg of sodium.

Sadly and most alarming are these are the foods that are being used to target our kids when they are online playing Roblox, Minecraft or searching Instagram, TikTok or Facebook. THIS TARGETED, REPETITIVE SUBLIMINAL MARKETING AND EXPLOITING OF OUR CHILDREN HAS TO STOP!

The guidance will apply to 163 categories of processed and packaged food and provide different targets for, say, rye bread, salad dressing and baby food. The recommendations also include scores of the most common dishes served by large restaurant chains, like cheesy pasta, french fries and tacos. Things as seemingly ‘healthy’ as a chicken breasts are pumped with salt to make them more plump and appealing.

The human and economic costs of diet-related diseases are staggering, and hundreds of thousands of Americans are learning that the hard way as they contract these chronic diseases and face the consequences of poor nutrition,” he said. Sadly, there are socioeconomic implications here, as often the most effected, are poorer communities.

Here are some helpful ways to wean your family off of salt:

  1. Spice it up! Slowly introduce spices such as cinnamon, black pepper, crushed red pepper, cayenne, ginger, rosemary and oregano, just to name a few of the flavorful and healthful herbs that have a multitude of benefits.

  2. If you look at India, the Middle East or Latin American countries, people add a lot of variety in their baby food. Using a variety of spices to make food taste good will expand the child's palate, and also cut down on the sugar and salt that we often use to make foods taste better.

  3. Try to substitute the crunchy snacks that come in boxes and bags for for fresh fruits and vegetables. Be patient with your children as they navigate the concepts of snacking on cucumbers, celery and sugar snap peas over chips (crisps), and pretzels. It’ll be a battle, but well worth fighting.

  4. NO SALT AT THE KITCHEN TABLE. MOST FOODS (CHICKEN BREAST ALREADY HAVE MORE UNDER THEIR FEATHERS THANK YOU BARGAIN FOR. (e.g. Raw chicken breast can contain as little as 50 to 75 milligrams of sodium per 4-ounce serving. But much of the chicken on the market in the U.S. is “enhanced” -- injected with a salt solution, or broth, during processing. Sodium levels often reach well over 400 milligrams per serving -- nearly one-third of the maximum daily intake of 1500 milligrams recommended for people at risk of high blood pressure (including African Americans and older adults).