A Moment of Science

Should Your Teen Watch Their Salt Intake?

The typical American teenager eats about nine grams of salt per day. That's twice the recommended amount.

Teenage girl eating pizza

Photo: D. Sharon Pruitt (flickr)

Teens should limit their salt intake.

I know it’s a good idea for adults to watch how much salt they eat, especially if they’re at risk for high blood pressure. But what about kids? Should parents cut back on how much salt their kids eat, too?

Salty Situation

The answer is yes, at least for teens. The typical American teenager eats about nine grams of salt per day. That’s twice the recommended amount.

And the tricky part is that it’s not a matter of sprinkling salt on food. Most of the salt that teens and adults get is already added to processed and prepared foods. Pizza is especially bad, and even baked goods have a lot of salt. So kids can end up eating too much salt without knowing it.

The Modern Teenager

But it’s worth trying to eat less. In one study, researchers used computer models to see how less salt could affect teens’ health.

One result showed that reducing salt consumption by as little as half a teaspoon a day could lower teens’ risk for high blood pressure by as much as sixty-three percent. And it could also help more teens avoid high blood pressure as they grow into adults.

Health professionals have known for a while that reducing salt is good for heart health. And now food manufacturers are catching on. For example, Walmart announced that it’s going to reduce salt and sugar in many of its store branded foods, and urge its suppliers to make their foods more healthful, too.

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