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Cutting Back on Salt Cuts Down on Sodas With Kids

British researchers suggest reductions could lower chances of heart disease, diabetes

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Reducing children's salt intake may lower their consumption of sugar-sweetened soft drinks and reduce their risk of obesity, high blood pressure and other health problems later in life, British researchers say.

Scientists at St. George's University of London analyzed data on more than 1,600 boys and girls, aged 4 to 18, in Great Britain, and found that those who ate a lower-salt diet drank less fluid. The researchers estimated that cutting 1 gram of salt from a child's daily diet would reduce the child's overall fluid intake by 100 grams per day.

The data analysis also revealed that children who ate a lower-salt diet also drank fewer sugar-sweetened soft drinks. The researchers calculated that reducing a child's salt intake by 1 gram per day would reduce the child's sugar-sweetened soft drink consumption by 27 grams per day.

If children aged 4 to 18 cut their salt intake by half (an average reduction of 3 grams a day), there would be approximately two sugar-sweetened soft drinks per week per child, so each child would decrease calorie intake by almost 250 kcal per week, study author Dr. Feng J. He said in a prepared statement.

Not only would reducing salt intake lower blood pressure in children, but it could also play a role in helping to reduce obesity, said He.

The study was published in the current issue of Hypertension.

In a related editorial in the same issue of the journal, Dr. Myron H. Weinberger of the Indiana University Medical Center, wrote that reducing children's intake of salt and sweetened beverages, combined with increased physical activity, "could go a long way in reducing the present 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."

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about overweight and obesity in children.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Heart Association, news release, Feb. 20, 2008

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