Kids eating too much salt

(CNN) - A new report finds American children and teens eat just as much salt every day as adults. That's bad news and contributes to rising blood pressure rates among young people.

Children and teens with high blood pressure very often become adults with high blood pressure, a condition which is a known risk factor for heart and kidney disease. For young people who are obese or overweight, the risk for high blood pressure is even greater.

Health experts recommend between 1200 and 1500 milligrams of sodium per day for children ages 4 to 18. It's the daily equivalent of one half teaspoon of salt.

The participants in this study reported eating an average of 3,387 milligrams per day. That's more than twice the daily recommended sodium levels for children and teens.

The study, which is published in the journal "Pediatrics," says that reducing sodium is one of the most effective methods for fighting high blood pressure. Because many processed foods - canned, frozen, packaged and restaurant foods - are often high in salt, it's important for parents to read food labels.

Experts also recommend that children exercise and eat a balanced diet including plenty of fruits and vegetables.