Did you know that today marks the start of the annual World Salt Awareness Week? It’s at least the 8th year in a row that the week has been coordinated by the UK-based organization World Action on Salt and Health. As you might expect, the broad purpose is to raise awareness about salt and health.
The theme of this year’s awareness week is Salt and Children, with a focus on the high amounts of sodium that children eat, especially at restaurants. About 90% of children in the U.S. eat more than the recommended amount of sodium per day, and this puts them at risk for high blood pressure and heart disease earlier in life.
It is so important that we give our kids the right foods so they can grow up to be healthy adults, free of heart disease and stroke. We also need help from the food and restaurant industries, which control most of the salt in our diets given that almost 80% of the sodium we eat comes from those foods.
According to national data about Americans’ eating habits, these foods are the leading contributors to the sodium 6-18 year-olds eat (check out this infographic for a visual version of the top six saltiest foods kids eat):
- Bread and rolls
- Cold cuts and cured meats
- Savory snacks (such as chips and pretzels)
- Sandwiches (including burgers)
- Chicken patties, nuggets and tenders
- Pasta mixed dishes (like spaghetti with sauce)
- Mexican mixed dishes (like burritos and tacos)
The good news is that taste preferences for salty-tasting foods are learned early in life, so if children eat lower-salt foods from the start, they will likely have healthier taste preferences as they grow older.
What will you do to raise awareness about salt this week? You could start by clicking the “Share This” link at the top of this article to share this blog post with others! Follow the conversation in social media using the hashtags #LessSalt, #EscapeTheSalt, and #SaltAwarenessWeek.