Is Your Child Eating Too Much Sodium and Sugar?
Obesity is a well-known epidemic here in the U.S., with the figures more than doubling since 1970. Research shows that this problem starts early, with about 23 percent of children between two and five years old weighing in as either overweight or obese. This is often due to high sugar and sodium intake. According to a recent study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the food industry isn’t helping your kids out much with this.
High Sugar and High Sodium
The study examined over a thousand food items for infants and toddlers. Their findings showed that for infants, food options were fairly good, but that their options quickly deteriorated after age one. Some of the data they discovered include the following:
- About a 1/3 of all dinners for toddlers have some form of added sugar.
- 72% of toddler dinners are high in sodium.
- The average toddler dinner will have more sodium than the 1,500mg daily recommended intake.
- 97% of cereal bars and similar items have added sugar.
- On average, snacks like crackers and mini hot dogs have more sodium than salted potato chips for adults.
- About 88% of drinks marketed for toddlers have added sugar of some form.
- One of the most common drink additives was fruit juice concentrate, which is often mistaken by parents as being healthy. In reality, it is just another form of sugar.
This all explains why child obesity has been on the rise. The store-bought options for toddlers are limited to many high-sodium and high-sugar foods, especially when it comes to cereal bars and drinks.
Because of these findings, the researchers suggest that parents limit these types of items in their children’s diets, or perhaps replace processed foods altogether with home-cooked meals. The latter option is a surefire way to limit your child’s sugar and sodium intake, since you can use fresh ingredients without sugary or salty additives.
As parents steer their children away from the processed food items on the market, they will help set them up for a healthier future. What children eat at early ages will set their taste preferences, and these will be difficult to override when they get older. If children learn to eat healthy food early on, they will be more likely to follow a pattern of healthy living later in life. On the other hand, the prepared foods on the market are liable to establish unhealthy preferences and habits and lead to obesity and poor health.