Buying ready-made food at grocery stores for your toddler? Learning to read nutrition labels might be on the menu for your next trip to the grocery store; a new study says that the majority of pre-packaged foods for toddlers and children are salty beyond recommended limits.
71% of toddler food products have greater sodium content than the recommended 210-mg per serving, researchers for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA found in their latest study.
The study’s lead author, a fellow at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention Joyce Maalouf said the team reviewed more than 1,100 products specifically marketed to babies and toddlers and sold in grocery stores. The researchers based their study on an upper limit of 210 milligrams of sodium per serving in accordance with the guidelines outlined by the Institute of Medicine and ChooseMyPlate.gov for salt intake and young children.
The results were shocking: 71% of commercially prepared meals and 50% of savory snacks surpassed sodium-content recommendations. Some toddler meals contained as much as 630-mg sodium per serving.
“These meals are not the only meal that kids will eat,” says Maalouf. “They’re growing, they’re always snacking. So they’re eating seven to eight servings and meals per day.”
“Our concern is the possible long-term health risks of introducing high levels of sodium in a child’s diet, because high blood pressure as well as a preference for salty foods may develop early in life,” lead author Joyce Maalouf said in a statement. She said that the amount of salt consumed early in life tends to continue as they grow up. Lowering sodium early is prudent for healthier habits in adulthood. “The less sodium in an infant’s or toddler’s diet, the less he or she may want it when older.”
Baby food within acceptable limits
The study found that overall, baby food fell within safe limits. “The good news is that commercial foods for babies, when they start complimentary feeding from 4 to 12 months … are relatively low in sodium,” said Maalouf. According to the research, there was only one exception: one of 18 pasta-based meals for nine- to 12-month-old babies contained 230-mg sodium per serving.