Kids’ excessive salty snacks are linked to obesity, high blood pressure; new limits on school vending items may help

As new research shows that America’s child-obesity epidemic is linked to eating too many salty snacks,  new federal regulations could ensure that vending-machine snacks in Kentucky’s schools are healthier and lower in sodium.

Spurred by children eating too much salt and being too fat, “blood pressure in America’s kids and teens has gone sky-high,” creating a young generation at risk for serious health problems, including heart disease, stroke, reports Brian Alexander of NBC News.

“Kids eat far too much sodium,” the study’s co-author, Dr. Stephen Daniels told NBC. “And they aren’t adding it at the table, and their parents aren’t putting it into food; they’re getting it through processed foods.” The research, published Monday in the journal Hypertension, links this rising blood pressure to children’s increasing bod- mass index and sodium intake.

The “Smart Snacks in Schools” nutrition standards, announced last month by the Department of Agriculture, require any food sold in public schools to meet calorie, fat, sugar and sodium limits. The changes shouldn’t be very significant for Kentucky students because the state already prohibits vending machine sales during the school day. And, a few existing state regulations, like fat content, are tougher than the federal changes and will remain in place, Sue Bartenfield, nutrition program manager for the Kentucky Department of Educationtold Stu Johnson of the Kentucky Public Radio bureau in Frankfort. The new federal limits on calories and sodium are tighter, and the federal law will also keep vending machines shut down for a half-hour after school, Bartenfield told Johnson.

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