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Could Kids' Salt Intake Affect Their Weight?
Date:12/10/2012

By Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Dec. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Children who eat a lot of salty food also tend to down more sugary drinks -- which, in turn, might be related to their risk of obesity, a new study suggests.

The findings raise the possibility that curbing kids' salt intake could end up benefiting their waistlines, researchers report in the Dec. 10 online and January print issue of Pediatrics.

The study, of nearly 4,300 Australian children and teens, found that the more salt kids ate each day, the more fluids they drank. The same was true when the researchers zeroed in on the nearly two-thirds of kids who drank sugary beverages: For every 390 milligrams (mg) of sodium they got each day, they averaged an extra 0.6 ounces of sugar-sweetened soda, juice or other drinks.

Those liquid calories, in turn, were linked -- albeit weakly -- to the risk of obesity.

Kids who had more than one sugary drink in a day were 26 percent more likely to be overweight or obese than their peers who avoided sweetened drinks. That connection, however, weakened once the researchers factored in exercise habits.

It's not exactly surprising that kids with a taste for salty foods would also be fans of soda or other sugary drinks, according to Lona Sandon, an assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.

But it's not clear that extra sodium actually made kids drink more sweetened beverages, she pointed out.

"These data don't tell us anything about cause and effect," Sandon said. "We don't know that if we got kids to lower their sodium intake, they'd drink fewer sugar-sweetened beverages."

One of the researchers on the study agreed. But it also can't hurt to limit your kids' access to high-sodium snacks and sugary drinks, according to Carley Grimes, a Ph.D. candidate at Deakin University in Burwood, Australia.

"As a parent,
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