Reducing Kids' Salt Intake May Lower Soft Drink Consumption, Reducing Obesity, High Blood Pressure And Later Health Risks
who eat less salt drink fewer sugar-sweetened soft drinks and may
significantly lower their risks for obesity, elevated blood pressure
and later-in-life heart attack and stroke, according to researchers at
St. George’s University of London, England.
studies have shown that dietary salt intake increases fluid consumption
in adults. But the new study is believed to be the first to examine
whether the same is true in children.
soft drinks are a significant source of calorie intake in children,"
said Dr. Feng J. He, lead author of the study, "It has been shown
that sugar-sweetened soft drink consumption is related to obesity in
young people. However, it is unclear whether there is a link between
salt intake and sugar-sweetened soft drink consumption."
and colleagues analyzed data from the National Diet and Nutrition
Survey (NDNS) in Great Britain, conducted in 1997 in a nationally
representative sample of more than 2,000 people between 4 and 18 years
old. Among the participants, more than 1,600 boys and girls had salt
and fluid intake recorded using a seven-day dietary record, with all
food and drink consumed weighed on digital scales.
found that children eating a lower-salt diet drank less fluid," said
Dr. He, a cardiovascularresearch fellow at St. George’s. "From
our research, we estimated that 1 gram of salt cut from their daily
diet would reduce fluid intake by 100 grams per day."
researchers also found that children eating a lower-salt diet drank
fewer sugar-sweetened soft drinks. From their research, they predicted
that reducing salt intake by 1 gram each day would reduce
sugar-sweetened soft drink consumption by 27 grams per day, after
considering other factors such as age, gender, body weight and level of
children aged 4 to 18 years cut their salt intake by half (i.e., an
average reduction of 3 grams a day), there would be a decrease of
approximately two sugar-sweetened soft drinks per week per child, so
each child would decrease calorie intake by almost 250 kcal per week,"
Dr. He said. "Not only would reducing salt intake lower blood pressure
in children, but it could also play a role in helping to reduce
previous studies, researchers found that a modest reduction in dietary
salt intake lowers blood pressure in children, and a low-salt diet
during childhood may prevent the development of high blood pressure
later in life (Reference: He FJ, MacGregor GA. Importance of salt in
determining blood pressure in children: meta-analysis of controlled
trials. Hypertension. 2006;48:861-869).
new research suggests that reduced salt intake could also help decrease
childhood obesity, through its effect on sugar-sweetened soft drink
high blood pressure and obesity increase the risk of having strokes and
heart attacks," Dr. He said. "It is, therefore, important for children
to eat a low-salt diet to reduce their risk of having a stroke or a
heart attack later in life. All physicians should give their patients
appropriate advice on how to reduce salt in their diet."
Dr. He recommends that parents check labels, choose low-salt food products and not add salt during cooking and at the table.
also urges consumers to challenge the food industry to make a gradual
and sustained reduction in the amount of salt added to children’s
food products that have added salt.
most developed countries, about 80 percent of salt intake is from salt
already added to food by the food industry. Reducing salt would not
necessarily impact food taste, she said.
reductions in the salt content of 10 percent to 20 percent cannot be
detected by the human salt taste receptors and do not cause any
technological or safety problems," Dr. He said.
The research results were reported in the print and online issue of Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association.
related Hypertension editorial, Dr. Myron H. Weinberger, Indiana
University Medical Center, Indianapolis, wrote that reductions in salt
and sweet-beverage consumption among children, coupled with an increase
in physical activity, "could go a long way in reducing thepresent
scourge of cardiovascular disease in our industrialized society.
Obviously, each step in this progression requires further definition
and confirmation. This presents a formidable challenge as we move into
the 21st century."
Dr. He’s co authors are: Naomi M. Marrero and Professor Graham A. MacGregor.
For more information visit www.americanheart.org and www.sgul.ac.uk.