An estimated seven in 10 toddler meals had too much salt, while most cereal bars, breakfast pastries, and snacks for infant and toddlers have extra sugar, say researchers at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency suggests parents should read food labels carefully, and make as healthy choices as possible.
In the study, scientists examined package information and labels for over 1,000 food items for infants and toddlers.
The results have been published in journal Pediatrics.
Researchers warn that almost one in four U.S. children with age between 2 and 5 are overweight and obese, with almost 80 percent of kids aged 1 to 3 are beyond upper limit when it comes to maximum level of daily salt intake established at 1,500 milligrams. Too much sugar and salt contribute to obesity, and raise blood pressure even in childhood, not to mention later on.
“We also know that about one in nine children have blood pressure above the normal range for their age, and that sodium, excess sodium, is related to increased blood pressure,” said the CDC’s Mary Cogswell, the study’s lead author. “Blood pressure tracks from when children are young up through adolescence into when they’re adults. Eating foods which are high in sodium can set a child up for high blood pressure and later on for cardiovascular disease.”
Food items marketed for toddlers should have no more than about 210 milligrams of salt per serving, according to Institute of Medicine recommendation, but meals included in the study had, on average, 361 milligrams, which is 1.5 times higher than the recommended limit.
“When you’re in the grocery store and things seem quick and simple, it’s very tempting to take those things, and we certainly have,” said Kathleen Burnett of Chicago. “We just try to use moderation in those prepackaged foods.”