NEW ORLEANS, March 22 (UPI) -- Nearly 75 percent of commercial pre-packaged meals and savory snacks for toddlers are high in sodium, U.S. researchers say.
Lead author Joyce Maalouf of the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and colleagues compared the sodium content per serving of 1,115 products for babies and toddlers using data on major and private label brands.
Baby food was categorized as intended for children less than age 1, while toddler food was for children ages 1-3. A product was defined as high in sodium if it had more than 210 milligrams of sodium per serving.
The study, presented at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions, found toddler meals had significantly higher amounts of sodium than baby meals, and some toddler meals were as high as 630 mg per serving -- about 40 percent of the 1,500 mg daily limit recommended by the American Heart Association. The foods with the most sodium were savory snacks and meals for toddlers, Maalouf said.
"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," Maalouf said in a statement. "The less sodium in an infant's or toddler's diet, the less he or she may want it when older."