As for salty foods, overindulgence can raise blood pressure, even in kids.
In general, experts recommend that adults and children get no more than 2,300 mg of sodium each day. Yet a recent government study of U.S. children and teens found that they averaged almost 3,400 mg of sodium per day.
Americans get most of their sodium not from their kitchen salt shakers, but from processed foods and restaurant meals. So, Sandon and Grimes said, it's wise to cut down on those types of foods, and replace them with fruits, vegetables and other whole foods.
The study included nearly 4,300 participants aged 2 to 16 who were interviewed (or whose parents were interviewed) about their diets over the past 24 hours.
Overall, 62 percent had had at least one sugar-sweetened drink. Those kids averaged over 2,500 mg of sodium a day, and just over 5 percent were obese; of their peers who steered clear of sugary drinks, just over 3 percent were obese, and the average sodium intake was a little less than 2,300 mg.
When the researchers looked at obesity risk, they found that kids who had at least one sugar-sweetened drink per day were 26 percent more likely to be overweight or obese. That was with factors like family income and overall calorie intake taken into account.
But then the researchers looked at a subgroup of kids who'd reported on their exercise habits. And once exercise was factored in, the obesity/sugary drink link was no longer statistically significant -- which means it could have been a chance finding.
Still, the researchers noted, the findings suggest that keeping kids' sodium intake down could end up having some impact on their weight.
Sandon was skeptical. "It's a bit of stretch to say that," she said. Kids who like their salty snacks may be reaching for those sweet drinks because they like the taste of sweet drink
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