Children as young as four are suffering from raised blood pressure because they are eating too many salty processed foods, researchers say. Campaigners claim this puts youngsters at an increased risk of hypertension in later life - potentially leading to heart disease, strokes and an early death.
The study, by St George's University Hospital in London, drew a direct correlation between the level of salt in the diet of children aged between four and 18 and higher blood pressure. The findings will heap pressure on the manufacturers of children's snacks and ready meals to reduce the salt levels in their recipes.
A single packet of instant noodles can contain more than the recommended daily maximum salt intake for a child aged four to six.
Just one pack of salt and vinegar crisps is likely to have more than a quarter of a child's salt quota.
The study looked at the salt intake for more than 1,600 children and teenagers over a seven- day period and then measured their blood pressure.
The authors, writing in The Journal of Human Hypertension today, found that for each extra gram of salt eaten by the participants, there was a related 0.4mmHg increase in systolic blood pressure.
This is a small but significant increase, according to health campaigners.
Source - Daily Mail