SALT INTAKE AND EATING PATTERNS OF INFANTS AND CHILDREN IN RELATION TO BLOOD PRESSURE
Approximately 20% of children in this country are at risk of developing hypertension as adults. The factors that will induce hypertension are genetic, which cannot be modified, and environmental, which can be modified. Genetic factors assist in identifying the population at risk, i.e., family history of hypertension, myocardial infarction, stroke, or renal disease. The population with a negative family history is less at risk.
The role of salt intake as an environmental factor in the induction of hypertension has still to be defined. For 80% of the population in this country, present salt intake has not been demonstrated to be harmful, i.e., hypertension has not developed. Salt intake is likely to be only one of the contributing factors for those whose genetic makeup predisposes them to hypertension.
Salt appetite for some is an important expression of personal preference in relation to diet; for others, salt-containing foods have important cultural values. Present evidence does not provide a firm basis for advising a change in the dietary salt intake for the general population. There is a reasonable possibility that a low salt intake begun early in life may protect, to some extent, persons at risk from developing hypertension.
Salt consumption today is being determined to an increasing degree by food manufacturers and processors and quick-service food suppliers. To the extent that salt is added to a food prior to its being served, the individual has an obligatory rather than a selected intake of salt. The consumption of presalted foods may be producing significant changes in salt intake which are not perceived at this time.
- Copyright © 1974 by the American Academy of Pediatrics