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Sodium intake too high among US teens

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According to a new study, many US teens may be consuming an excess amount of sodium on a daily basis. It also found that this was detrimental to their health. The study was published online on February 2 in the journal Pediatrics by researchers at the Medical College of Georgia, Georgia Regents University in Augusta, Georgia.

The objective of the study was to assess sodium intake among adolescents and to determine the relationships of sodium intake with body fat and inflammation in healthy teens. The study group comprised 766 healthy Caucasian and African American adolescents aged 14 to 18 years. Their dietary sodium intake was estimated by seven day period during which their daily intake of sodium was reported. Their percentage of body fat was measured by a procedure known as dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry. Subcutaneous (below the kin) abdominal body fat and visceral fat were measured with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). (Visceral body fat is adipose tissue surround internal organs and is considered to be the most dangerous type of body fat. Fasting blood samples were drawn and measured for leptin, adiponectin, C-reactive protein, tumor necrosis factor-α, and intercellular adhesion molecule-1.

The investigators found that the average sodium intake was 3,280 mg/day. Almost all (97%) of the adolescents consumed an amount of sodium on a daily basis that exceeded the American Heart Association recommendation for sodium intake. Statistical analysis revealed that dietary sodium intake was directly associated with body weight. Body mass index, waist circumference, percent body fat, fat mass, subcutaneous abdominal adipose tissue, leptin, and tumor necrosis factor-α. No relationship was found between dietary sodium intake and visceral adipose tissue, skinfold thickness, adiponectin, C-reactive protein, or intercellular adhesion molecule-1.

The study authors concluded that the average sodium consumption of the adolescents was as high as that of adults and more than twice the daily intake recommended by the American Heart Association. High sodium intake is positively associated with adiposity and inflammation independent of total energy intake and sugar-sweetened soft drink consumption.

According to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, the ongoing epidemic of childhood obesity is both a national and local crisis. Nationally, obesity rates among children have tripled since the 1970s; in Los Angeles County more than one in five students in the fifth, seventh, and ninth grades are now obese.

According to the American Heart association, excess sodium in your system causes your body to retain water. This puts an extra burden on your heart and blood vessels. In some people, this may lead to or raise high blood pressure. Having less sodium in your diet may help you lower or avoid high blood pressure. Individuals with high blood pressure are more likely to develop heart disease or have a stroke. Most Americans consume to much sodium and are often that they are. One teaspoon of salt contains about 2,300 mg of sodium. Your body only needs 200 mg of sodium per day. The average American eats about 3,000 to 3,600 mg of sodium a day. All Americans should reduce the amount of sodium in their diet to less than 1,500 mg a day.

Most of our dietary sodium in our diets comes from adding it when food is being prepared. Pay attention to food labels, because they tell how much sodium is in food products. For example: foods with less than 140 mg or 5% of the Daily Value (DV) per serving are low in sodium. The following items should be limited in your diet:

  • Salt (sodium chloride or NaCl)
  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • Baking soda
  • Baking powder
  • Disodium phosphate
  • Any compound that has “sodium” or “Na” in its name

Some over-the-counter and prescription medicines also contain large amounts of sodium. Make it a habit of reading the labels of all over-the-counter drugs, too.

The best way to reduce sodium is to avoid prepackaged, processed and fast foods, which tend to be high in sodium. The following items should be limited in your diet:

  • Salted snacks
  • Fish that’s frozen, pre-breaded, pre-fried or smoked; also some fish that is canned in oil or brine (e.g., tuna, sardines or shellfish)
  • Ham, bacon, corned beef, luncheon meats, sausages and hot dogs
  • Canned foods and juices containing salt
  • Commercially made main dishes like hash, meat pies and frozen dinners with more than 700 mg of sodium per serving
  • Cheeses and buttermilk
  • Seasoned salts, meat tenderizers and MSG
  • Ketchup, mayonnaise, sauces and salad dressings
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