Parents Beware: Toddler Snacks and Meals Too High in Salt and Sugar

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An overwhelming amount of food for toddlers contains sodium and sugar levels that are too high and can be dangerous for the health of the children, according to a recent study done by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Researchers analyzed sodium and sugar levels in more than 1,000 infant and toddler dinners, snacks, fruits, vegetables, dry cereals, juices and desserts and found that 70 percent of toddler dinners were high in sodium, with more than 210 milligrams per single serving. And around 30 percent of cereals, bars, snacks, desserts and juices had added sugar. All these packaged snacks that are packing sugar and salt can lead children to crave that same sugary and salty flavors as they grow up.

“We encourage the parents of our patients to be aware that many packaged snacks and food, while convenient, are not the healthiest and do often contain too much salt and sugar,” says Dr. Marty Baker, director of Carolinas HealthCare System’s Charlotte Pediatric Clinic. “Luckily, there are some easy and delicious snacks for parents to give to their children instead of the packaged ones that won’t encourage them to reach for overly salty or sugary foods in the future.”

Rather than scaring parents by highlighting what is really in many of the foods offered to children, the study hopes to encourage parents to make better choices and boost higher standards for foods commonly purchased at local grocery stories.

Trade the packaged snacks for wholesome alternatives, including peanut butter and bananas, grilled cheese on whole grain bread, Greek yogurt and fruit, or slices of turkey and apples.