Kids may be taking in grown-up amounts of sodium

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As the battle over the merits of sodium restrictions continues, a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) aims to tip the balance back to the side of the USDA with findings that U.S. children are eating nearly as much salt as the average adult. Yet the contention that such levels are harmful remains dubious.

Published today in the journal Pediatrics, the latest research was based upon a national survey of over 6,200 children between the ages of 8 and 18. The kids were asked to report their diet over the past 24 hours and had their blood pressure measured at least once.

The findings showed that, on average, the children consumed 3,387 mg of salt daily, which doesn t trail too far behind the average 3,466 mg of salt that adults take in each day. USDA guidelines currently recommend that Americans limit their sodium intake to no more than 2,300 mg per day (about one teaspoon of salt).

For every additional 1,000 mg of salt in a child's diet, the researchers found a one-point increase in systolic blood pressure, which rose to 1.5 points among overweight and obese kids.

But Dr. Michael Alderman of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York is not sold on the study results. "There is nothing in this paper and there is no information that I'm familiar with that suggests reducing sodium intake is of value for people eating an average of 3,400 milligrams of salt a day, he says.

ACSH's Dr. Josh Bloom couldn t agree more. A one-point difference in blood pressure is barely even perceptible, he notes. And according to this study, that one-point increase required an additional 1,000 mg of salt to be consumed daily a huge amount relative to such an insignificant increase. These are nonsense numbers.

Such results are ridiculous and add nothing to the controversy, adds ACSH's Dr. Ruth Kava.