| Opinion |

Packaged Food Kills: Too Much Sodium From Infancy to Adulthood

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At a meeting of the American Heart Association yesterday, data was presented that indicates there are high levels of sodium in packaged food made for toddlers.

I've gotten flack about this column for my stance that food should bear clear and obvious labels that show nutritional and artificial-sweetener data. The most common argument put forth by critics is that it shouldn't be the companies' responsibility to come up with such labels, but rather consumers should research the products they consume and inform themselves about what they are putting into their bodies. It's just not that black-and-white.

The fact remains that not everyone in this country is equal. Some people do not have Internet access. Some people cannot read. Yes, as much as we are conditioned to think we are all the same, we simply are not. Some of us have easier access to information and no trouble comprehending that information. That is not true of everyone.

And mostly due to that fact, I think food items should be labeled clearly when they contain GMOs or potentially harmful ingredients, such as the purported 750 of 1,000 foods for babies and toddlers that contain too much salt.

Salt acts as both a flavor and a preservative. It is understandable why companies use it -- they want higher sales. Well, they should have to label their items accordingly if they want to use shortcuts to sales, such as tons of sugar or salt.

Dr. Suzanne Kaseta, a professor at New York Medical College, told the the Daily Mail: "The effect is probably cumulative over time, where the longer you have that increased sodium level coming in, the more likely you'll end up with hypertension as an adult."

Products were considered to be high-sodium if they contained more than 210 milligrams of sodium per serving, 14 percent of the daily recommended allowance.

Children who eat salty foods learn to crave them as adults. Adults ingest about double the daily allowance, approximately 3,600 milligrams.

Such high-sodium diets are killing Americans. Researchers have found that consuming so much salt contributes to 2.3 million deaths a year. The Harvard School of Public Health estimates that one of every ten Americans dies from salt overindulgence. Most of these deaths occur in people younger than 70.

To the folks who say companies should not be forced to clearly disclose the ingredients in their products, I ask, why? Doing so doesn't really hurt the companies, and it can only do good for consumers.

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