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Parents Key to Reducing Children’s Sodium Levels

When it comes to sodium, how much is too much? More importantly, how much is too much for children?

This is a question the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit is hoping parents will ask themselves about their own children.

“Adults are becoming better educated about the need to decrease the levels of sodium in their own diets to help reduce their risk of disease, but parents may not think the same way about their children’s diets,” says Elsie Azevedo, RD, a Public Health Nutritionist with the HKPR District Health Unit. “Like many adults though, children are eating too much sodium and a high sodium diet when they are young can lead to health problems for those children later in life.”

Most Canadians consume approximately 3,400mg of sodium each day, Azevedo says, which is more than double the necessary amount. Healthy adults need only 1,500mg of sodium each day while healthy children require between 1,000 to 1,500mg of sodium each day depending on their age.

Sodium helps regulate fluids and blood pressure, but too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for strokes, heart disease and kidney disease. Azevedo says it’s important to get children on the path of healthy eating when they are young so their good eating habits can continue into adulthood.

“With hectic schedules many families feel there is no alternative but to choose fast foods or convenience foods to feed their families,”Azevedo says. “These are often are the worst culprits for sodium.”

Tips to reduce the amount of sodium for children include:

Prepare more meals at home using fresh foods - pizza, sub sandwiches, hamburgers, hot dogs, soups, and pasta dishes contain a lot of hidden sodium. When cooking, make extra pork, chicken or beef and use leftovers for sandwiches on whole grain breads. Encourage your children to eat more vegetables and fruit instead of high sodium snacks such as chips, crackers and processed snack foods. Serve carrots, cucumbers and red pepper rings with low fat sour cream mixed with herbs to dip. If using canned salmon, tuna or beans, rinse them prior to use to reduce the amount of sodium.

Read food labels - Look for the percent (%) daily value of sodium in the Nutrition Facts table on food packages and choose foods that contain 5% or less or 200 mg of sodium or less per serving.

Avoid the salt shaker – remove the salt shaker from the table and try a variety of spices for added flavour for foods.

For more information, quizzes, recipes and ideas, adults and parents can visit or follow the Health Unit’s Facebook page devoted to sodium -

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For more media inquiries, contact:

Elsie Azevedo, RD, Public Health Dietitian, Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit, (905) 885-9100, ext. 218.


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«January 2019»