The authors added that high salt intake is linked to hypertension in children and adolescents.
The team gathered data on sodium consumption and body weights of 6,235 Americans children and teenagers. They had set out to determine what effect salt intake and bodyweight might have on blood pressure.
They reported that boys tend to consume more sodium than girls.
Researchers in April 2012 found that salt levels in fast foods are much higher in North America than in the UK.
What is the difference between salt and sodiumCommon table salt is a chemical compound called sodium chloride, or NaCL. Na stands for sodium and CL stands for chlorine. Salt consists of 40% sodium and 60% chlorine.
Doctors, nutritionists and public health authorities focus on the sodium in salt, because it is that component which can lead to health problems. 6 grams of salt contains approximately 2.4 grams of sodium.
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), bread and rolls contribute to more salt intake in the USA than potato chips and other salty snacks.
American bread is very high in salt
Childhood sodium intake linked to higher hypertension riskThe researchers found that children with higher sodium intakes had a higher risk of developing high blood pressure (hypertension). The link was even stronger among obese or overweight children.
Approximately 37% of the 6,235 kids in the study were either overweight or obese - 15% of them had either high or elevated blood pressure.
The authors wrote that interventions to reduce sodium consumption in children, as well as raising physical activity may help reduce the growing rates of high and elevated blood pressure in American children and teenagers.
What is blood pressure?Blood pressure is mainly produced when the heart contracts - it is the pressure of blood that presses against the walls of the blood vessels.
When we measure somebody's blood pressure, we take two readings:
- Systolic pressure - the higher reading. This is the pressure on vessel walls when the heart contracts.
- Diastolic pressure - the lower reading. This is the pressure on the vessel walls just before the heart contracts; when the heart is resting.
If either systolic or diastolic pressure is too high, the patient has hypertension, or high blood pressure. Both the high and low readings are important. In order to accurately measure a patient's blood pressure, they need to be completely relaxed, sitting or lying down comfortably. The arm must be well supported.
What is a healthy blood pressure reading in children?Height plays a major effect on blood pressure in kids - taller children have higher blood pressure readings. A normal range for children takes into account their sex, height and age:
- Children aged from 3 to 5 years
Upper limit for normal systolic pressure - 104 to 116
Upper limit for diastolic pressure - 63 to 74
- Children aged from 6 to 9 years
Upper limit for normal systolic pressure - 108 to 121 for the upper limit of normal systolic pressure
Upper limit for normal diastolic pressure - 71 to 81
- Children aged from 10 to 15 years
Upper limit for normal systolic pressure - 114 to 127
Upper limit for normal diastolic pressure - 77 to 83
Chronic hypertension can lead to several illnesses, conditions and early deathHigh blood pressure, also called hypertension is a condition where blood pressure in the blood vessels is persistently high. If blood pressure is excessively high, the heart needs to work harder to pump blood around the body, leading to a higher risk of organ damage and other illnesses, such as stroke heart failure, aneurysm, renal failure, heart attack and stroke.
If a child has hypertension, their risk of health complications are even greater when they reach adulthood. Obese people with hypertension also have a higher risk of developing diabetes type 2.
Some illnesses and conditions linked to hypertension
In 2010, scientists from the University of California, San Francisco, found that teenagers who consume the recommended quantities of salt each day have a significantly lower chance of developing hypertension, heart disease, stroke, or dying prematurely later on in life, compared to those who ignore national guidelines.
Written by Christian Nordqvist