HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Most parents wouldn't give their 8-year-old child a Big Mac.
But, a growing number of children are eating the same amount of salt that's in one on a daily basis. That's the finding in a new study released Monday showing kids eat as much salt as adults, and they're paying for it with their health.
It's no secret that most kids love salty snacks. Grace is no exception.
“They eat potato chips, Goldfish, Cheez-Its,” said Christy Fry, Grace’s mother.
Fry is the mother of three young children. Like many moms, she struggles with how to get her kids to eat healthy foods.
“The boy is the one I’m really concerned about. He mainly likes crunchy, salty foods,” Fry said.
Now, there's a new reason for parents to be concerned about that salty diet. Published in the journal Pediatrics, the study found children are eating just as much salt as adults -- leading to high blood pressure at an earlier age. Overweight and obese children are the most vulnerable.
“That's the news that really surprised me,” said Dr. Jamie Bailes, a pediatrician at Cabell Pediatrics.
With more than 20 years of experience specializing in the treatment of overweight and obese children, Bailes wrote a book titled, "No More Fat Kids." Salt wasn't his focus, though.
“Most of the time, I'd tell them not to worry about their salt," Bailes said. "But now, I'll probably tell them to watch the salt and also watch their carbohydrates, and that will lower their salt as well.”
According to the study, a growing number of children ages 8 to 18 eat more than 3,000 milligrams of salt a day. That's double the recommended amount.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children shouldn't eat more than 1,200 to 1,500 milligrams a day. That's about one teaspoon or less to prevent the deadly effects of high blood pressure.
“That surprises me because I know he eats more salt than that,” Fry said.
High blood pressure can put more pressure on the heart and cause the arteries to harden leading to heart disease and strokes. Bailes says reducing your child's carb and sugar intake also will reduce salt because many high-carb foods like sodas and pasta dishes are also high in salt.