The current study included data from a nationally representative sample of U.S. children from 2003 to 2008. The study included more than 6,200 children between the ages of 8 and 18.
All the children provided information on their diet during the previous 24 hours when they began the study, and 91 percent gave information on their diets for a second day in a telephone interview.
Researchers found that the average child and teen consumed nearly 3,400 mg of sodium daily. Sodium intake increased with age, and males consumed more on average than females. Sodium consumption was higher in non-Hispanic whites than in other races.
Normal-weight kids ate the most salt, followed by obese and then overweight kids. The prevalence of overweight and obesity in the study was 37 percent.
Children and teens with higher sodium levels had higher rates of pre-high blood pressure and high blood pressure. The study found that when comparing those with the highest sodium consumption to the lowest, those with the highest had twice the odds of having elevated blood pressure. In overweight and obese children and teens, those with the highest rates had 3.5 times the risk of having pre-high blood pressure or high blood pressure.
As sodium levels increased, so too did blood pressure levels. In overweight and obese children, for example, the lowest sodium group had an average systolic blood pressure of 106.2 mm Hg, while the next group up had 108.8 mm Hg.
As sodium levels increased again, the third group had systolic levels that averaged 109 mm Hg, while the highest consumption group had average systolic levels of 112.8 mm Hg, according to the study.
"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, clini
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