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ATLANTA — More than 90% of children between the ages of 6 and 18 consume more than the recommended amount of sodium, according to a new Vital Signs report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (C.D.C.).

U.S. children aged 6 to 18 eat an average of about 3,300 mg of sodium a day before salt is added at the table, according to the report. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that children eat less than 2,300 mg per day.

C.D.C. researchers also found that approximately 65% of sodium comes from store foods, 13% from fast-food and pizza restaurant foods, and 9% from school cafeteria foods.


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Based on data from the 2009-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the C.D.C. noted that about 43% of sodium eaten by children comes from 10 foods, including cold cuts, cured meats and chicken products like nuggets and tenders.

The C.D.C. recommends that parents tackle the problem by giving their children a diet high in fruits and vegetables without added sodium. Schools and school districts may offer students lower-sodium options in vending machines, school stores and cafeterias.

“Thanks to the Healthy, Hunger-free Kids Act and the work of schools across the country, students are now receiving healthier meals and snacks featuring less sodium, sugar and fat and more whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean protein and low-fat dairy,” said Kevin Concannon, undersecretary for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services. “This report demonstrates the importance of continuing to move forward in our efforts to improve nutrition in schools, and to ensure that children and teens nationwide have access to safe, nutritious meals and snacks during the school day.”