By Lydia Wheeler - 07/29/15 03:00 PM EDT
Public health and science groups are working to debunk the reason why GOP members and special interest say target sodium levels in school lunches should stay where they are.
As part of the first lady’s prized healthy school lunch nutrition standards in the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, schools were required in the 2014-2015 school year to reduce sodium levels in high school lunches to 1,420 milligrams over the course of a week. By July 2017, the law requires schools further reduce those levels to 1,000 mg in high school lunches.
But those who oppose these stricter standards say there is no scientific evidence to prove that further reductions would benefit children.
The American Heart Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Center for Science in the Public Interest, however, say there is.
Mary Cogswell. a senior scientist with the CDC Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention, said sodium can lead to high blood pressure, which can increases the risk for cardiovascular disease.
1 in 9 children ages 8 to 17, she said, have blood pressure above what’s normal for their age, about 9 in 10 U.S. children ages 6 to 18 eat too much salt before the salt shaker is ever added to the dinner table, 2 in 18 are risk having hypertension as adults.
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommend Americans consumer no more than 2,300 mg per day. Cogswell said children are consuming on average almost 3,700 mg of sodium a day.
“Sodium intake is not from one meal or one food alone,” she said.