A new study in Australia finds that salt affects children’s health, and a moderated salt intake can reduce childhood obesity. The main objective of the study was to assess the salt use habits of children and parents, as well as to investigate health risks of high salt consumption.
Researcher Carley Grimes from the Deakin University in Victoria, Australia discovered that 69 percent of children exceeded the recommended daily upper limit for Na, and the discretionary salt use was common. Two thirds of the parents reported adding salt during cooking, and almost 50 percent of children reported adding salt at the table.
The study which observed more than 4,200 children aged 2 to 16 years, also discovered a relation between salt intake and sugar-sweetened soft drink consumption. Children who had at least one sugar sweetened drink a day consumed averagely 6.5 grams of salt per day and reported 26% higher risk of obesity. Children who didn’t drink these beverages ate approximately only 5.8 grams of salt daily.
Although it was difficult to point out the specific connection between salt and sweetened drinks like soda, energy drinks and fruit drinks use, the relation was obvious.
In a previous study in US scientists found that children ate as much salt as adults – about one gram per day more they should eat. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), extra salt is linked with higher blood pressure, overweight and obesity. The CDC looked at data on 6,200 American children aged 8 to 18 and found that 15 percent of all had either high blood pressure, or slightly elevated pressure (prehypertension). The risk of having prehypertension was double in children who consumed the largest amounts of salt, but the risk among overweight and obese kids were more than triple.
The Australian research reported different results than the American in relation to sugar sweetened beverage consumption. According to Grymes, 62% of the kids drank such beverages, and in US the percentage was 80%. But Grymes, didn’t take into consideration fruit juice, which in general has the same impact on health, being a product with added sugar.
According to the CDC statistics, childhood obesity in the United States has tripled in the past three decades, and in Australia numbers appear to show similar conclusions. In regard to obesity issues of adults, there are many documented studies proving the relationship between salt intake and fluid consumption. It has been shown that a reduction in salt use reduces fluid intake as a whole, and consecutively lead to a reduction in sugary drink consumption. Therefore, limiting salt intake would lead to less consuming of sugar sweetened beverages, thus reducing childhood obesity.