December 3, 2023

Angela Onwuzoo

A nutrition expert, Prof. Ignatius Onimawo, has urged mothers to stop giving their babies salty foods, noting that they are exposing them to the risk of hypertension in the future by doing so. 

According to the nutritionist, in the short term, too much sodium in the diet can be harmful to the developing kidneys and in the long term, infants may acquire a taste for salty foods, which could result in later health problems. 

Prof. Onimawo, a former Vice-Chancellor of Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Edo State, disclosed this during an exclusive interview with Reportr Door Healthwise, stressing that once babies develop a very high taste for salty foods they now run the risk of becoming hypertensive later on in life.  

The former President, Nutrition Society of Nigeria, stressed that mothers should not give their babies salty foods to prevent the development of habits that could increase their risk of developing hypertension in the future.

The nutritionist explained, “Giving children salty foods when they are so small, the tendency is that they develop a very high taste for salt which they grow up with. And you know as they grow up, with increased salt intake, they have the risk of hypertension later in life. 

“There are some people who are so used to it that even when there is enough salt in the food, they must still want to add salt on top. 

“You must have observed that some people do that. It is what they developed from childhood when they were very small.

“They were given too much salty food when they were small. Once that habit develops, later on in life, they will now run the risk of becoming hypertensive.”

The World Health Organisation recommended that every adult should consume less than five grams of salt or less than one teaspoon daily to maintain a healthy life.

WHO, however, said most people still consumed too much salt, an average of nine to 12 grams daily or about twice the recommended maximum level of intake per day.

According to the organisation, consuming too much of the product increases the risk of developing high blood pressure, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases, which adds to healthcare costs for governments.

It said that around 2.5 million deaths might be prevented each year if global salt consumption could be reduced to the recommended level.

Prof.Onimawo counselled mothers not to joke with the diets of their children and avoid feeding them foods with high levels of salt. 

He reiterated that consuming too much salt can have serious negative effects on their health.

The don said, “When it comes to the issue of processing salt in the system, the kidney is key to that. It will increase their sensitivity to salt.

“Once food has not had enough salt, they are not likely to enjoy that food and so they want to continue to add salt. So, mothers should not give babies salty food to prevent the development of habits that could lead to hypertension in the future.”

The United Kingdom’s National Health Service also cautioned against giving children too many foods that are high in saturated fat, such as crisps, biscuits, and cakes.

Babies, the NHS affirms should not eat much salt, as it’s not good for their kidneys. 

In a 2017 article published in PMC journal, titled, ‘Infants’ and Children’s Salt Taste Perception and Liking: A Review’, the authors said the problem with high levels of sodium consumption at a young age is two-fold. 

“Firstly, it sets children up for developing high blood pressure during childhood and adulthood. Secondly, children might get used to eating high levels of salt, and expect a certain level of saltiness in their foods. This potentially leads to unhealthy food choices during child-and adulthood,” they noted.

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