Previous studies have indicated that eating habits are formed early in life. Because of this, eating high salt during infancy and toddlerhood can create a taste for high salt foods. Over time, this dietary problem can lead to serious health problems including kidney damage. Additionally, these foods are often higher in fat, cholesterol and preservatives, further compounding the potential health problems.
According to a study performed by the University of Bristol, this is a real problem for children today. Based on information from nearly 1,200 participants in the Children of the 90s study, 70 percent of 8-month olds are consuming more than double the recommended amount of sodium.
There are many culprits in this dangerous dietary problem: giving the infant cow’s milk instead of breast milk or formula, adult processed foods, excessive amounts of breads, salty extras like gravy and fast food.
Excessive salt in the diet can easily be eliminated by making food at home. However, because of busy lifestyles, adults are finding it harder and harder to provide a home-cooked meal. As a result, they turn to fast foods and pre-made convenience foods.
“This research suggests that clear advice is needed for parents about what foods are suitable for infants. This should be given to all parents and care[givers] and should include the important advice not to use cows’ milk as a main drink before 12 months of age,” said research leaders and nutritionists Dr. Pauline Emmett and Vicky Cribb.
They also stated that, “Given that three-quarters of salt in the diet comes from processed adult foods, successful salt-reduction strategies can only be achieved with the co-operation of the food industry. Manufacturers have a responsibility to reduce the salt content of food products. The process has already started in the UK but much more needs to be done.”
We have seen many of these changes in the U.S. as well, particularly with the recent fast food changes. Despite this fact, I agree with the researchers and still stand by my opinion that there is much more than needs to be done to improve the future health of our children.
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