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Salt and Sugar
Feb 8th, 2012 Headlines

Even though salt and sugar are two things people love, they can also be bad for you. A newly released CDC report had some surprising news about salt in some of our favorite foods.

The CDC report found that bread and rolls are the number source of salt in our diets, accounting for more than twice as much sodium as snacks like potato chips and pretzels.  To many, this may seem weird.  It’s not that breads are saltier than other foods, but that people tend to eat so much more of them.

Next on the top ten list were cold cuts and cured meats, pizza, fresh and processed poultry, soups, fast food hamburgers and sandwiches, cheese, pasta, meatloaf and snacks like potato chips.

So, how much salt should you have in your diet? You should only have about 2,300 mg of sodium in your diet, which is about a teaspoon of salt. While the average salt consumption is 3,300 mg, this amount may be even less for people with heart disease or high blood pressure.  Unfortunately, only about 10% of Americans meet the guidelines.   The point is that there is salt hidden in many common foods that don’t even taste salty, and the perfect example of this is bread.

There is another recent study out about sugary foods in elementary schools, which looked at 3,800 public and private elementary schools over a four-year period.  It was found that students at more than half of the schools could get food from sources other than the school meal program, such as vending machines, snack bars, or school stores.  Sugary foods were in just about all of them.

Fortunately, there are rules in place about where schools can put vending machines. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says foods of minimal nutritional value cannot be sold in the cafeteria during lunchtime, but they may be sold in vending machines in schools at any time.

The study also found some interesting differences between the schools. They discovered that suburban schools were more likely to have vending machines and other sources than urban schools.   Also, private schools had more snack bars on campus and more access to sugary, salty snacks than public schools.  Students in the south had more access to healthier foods in vending machines and snack bars, despite the fact that childhood obesity rates are higher in this region.

How big a problem is obesity among elementary school age kids? According to the CDC, childhood obesity has tripled over the past 30 years.  Schools provide a ripe environment to help curb the problem by teaching healthy habits and providing nutritious foods, not only in the cafeteria but also in other food sources around campus.



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