The 10 Worst High-Sodium Foods for Kids, CDC Warns

Parents worried about the sneaky sugar content in their kids’ diet might also want to beware of another threat in the nutritional minefield: sodium. About 90 percent of American children consume too much of it daily, according to a scary new report from the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention, which has led to one in every six kids having raised blood pressure.

“The taste for salt is established through diet at a young age,” noted the CDC report, released Tuesday. “Parents and caregivers can help lower sodium by influencing the way foods are produced, sold, prepared, and served.” The worst offending foods, it continued, included 10 of the most common kid favorites — including pizza, chips and chicken nuggets — which accounted for nearly half of all the sodium eaten by children.

“It’s totally not surprising,” Michael Moss, the Pulitzer Prize winning author of “Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us,” told Yahoo Health in response to the CDC news. “Salt is still seen by the processed food industry as one of its biggest miracle ingredients, which lets them maximize the allure of their product by saving money and by avoiding ingredients like fresh herbs and ripe vegetables.” And the fallout from high sodium contents, he added, goes way beyond high blood pressure, as all the trouble foods mentioned by the CDC are also “huge contributors to the problems of diabetes and obesity.”

US children ages 6 to 18 eat an average of 3,300 mg of sodium a day — even before adding salt at the table, the report noted. That’s significantly higher than the government’s latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans (from 2010), which recommend that children eat less than 2,300 mg daily. Sodium consumption was especially high in teens, with high-school age participants having a mean intake of 3,672 mg a day.The CDC also warned that sodium can make certain youth populations more susceptible to high blood pressure — African Americans, for example, as well as those with diabetes or chronic kidney disease — and offered various ideas for lowering the salt content in a child’s diet, such as reading nutrition labels and choosing “low-sodium” options.

It would also be wise to avoid the CDC’s 10 worst high-sodium offenders, of course. Click through the slide show to find out which to steer clear of, and how many mg of sodium we’re actually talking about for each. But be prepared, parents: They are the treats that some kids love best.