"It was interesting that for kids who are of normal weight, the sodium intake didn't have as big an impact on blood pressure as it did for children who were overweight and obese," said Dr. Michael Moritz, clinical director of pediatric nephrology at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. "We know that being overweight predisposes you to high blood pressure and sodium can also increase the risk of high blood pressure, but the question is, What happens when they occur in relationship to each other?"
Moritz said it's not yet clear what impact, if any, these slight elevations in blood pressure will have on children's future health.
Graf said it isn't healthy for anyone to consume high levels of sodium in the long-term, and she advises parents to be aware of the amount of sodium in their child's diet but not to focus on it.
Graf recommended staying away from processed foods as much as possible, because they contain a lot of sodium. A surprising source of sodium is bread and bread products, such as bagels. One large plain bagel can contain 700 mg of sodium, Graf said.
She recommended giving your kids more fruits and vegetables and whole-grain foods that haven't been overly processed. "The more you buy fresh foods, the less you have to focus on counting sodium milligrams," she said.
Although the study found an association between salt consumption and higher blood pressure in children, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
Learn more about lowering the sodium in your family's diet from the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
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