Research reveals parents are unaware of the real risks of a high salt diet.
Although most parents know that a high salt diet is linked to high blood pressure, few are aware of just how seriously an excess of salt can affect them and their children. Research reveals that only a quarter are aware that high salt intake is linked with conditions as serious as stomach cancer. Less than 1 in 5 realise that too much salt can lead to osteoporosis. Only 19% are aware that a salt excess in their child's diet can aggravate the symptoms of asthma. These statistics are troubling and suggest that this is an area that parents really need more guidance on.
This research conducted by the Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) and Netmums is particularly worrying because a high salt diet can be damaging to children's health. Trials conducted as part of the research show that eating a high salt diet in childhood pushes blood pressure up. Children who eat more salt were also shown to have a higher blood pressure than children who eat less salt, which could lead to health difficulties as they get older.
The key to keeping your child on a low salt diet is to make sure that they stay well under the maximum daily limit for salt. The 6g a day figure has been pushed quite strongly in the media, but it is important to remember that this is the maximum daily limit for adults. Children should actually be eating much less than this. A 4-6 year old, for instance should not be eating more than 3g a day, and a 2-3 year old should eat no more than 2g a day. Considering a single slice of bread can contain 0.5g of salt and a bowl of cereal with milk contains 0.7g of salt it is easy to see how the daily limit can be reached very quickly.
If you're unsure how to stick below this limit you'll be glad to know that last week was Salt Awareness Week so there's plenty of advice available.
For more information on how to keep your child's salt intake low, watch this video.