CDC Sodium Intake Data for Children Should Ring Alarm Bells

Statement of CSPI Health Promotion Policy Director Jim O'Hara

September 9, 2014

The dangerously high levels of sodium children are consuming demand action from the Food and Drug Administration. The sodium intake data for school-aged children in 2009-2010 released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should ring alarm bells. Children ages six to 18 are consuming on average 3,279 mg of sodium a day well above the government's recommendation of 2,300 mg or less per day. At that level, we are sentencing all too many children to premature death from heart disease and stroke.

The kids are not pouring the salt on their pizzas, snacks and cold cuts, but the food industry is. According to the CDC's Mortality and Morbidity Weekly, 65.1 percent of the sodium comes from foods purchased at grocery or convenience stores, and 13 percent and 4.9 percent from fast-food and other restaurants, respectively. The CDC authors said, 'These findings are consistent across population subgroups, reinforcing the IOM [Institute of Medicine 2010] recommendations to set phased targets to reduce the sodium content of U.S. commercially processed foods to achieve national health objectives.'

The IOM's recommendation advised FDA to set mandatory sodium limits for processed and restaurant foods, gradually reducing those levels in a manner not to be disruptive to industry and to acclimate consumers to less-salty foods. The longer FDA stalls in its public health responsibility, the more our children will suffer the health consequences as they grow older.


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