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American Heart Association Journal Report: Reducing Kids' Salt Intake May Lower Soft Drink Consumption, Reducing Obesity, High Blood Pressure and Later Health Risks
Date:2/20/2008

ged 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 obesity."

In 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).

The new research suggests that reduced salt intake could also help decrease childhood obesity, through its effect on sugar-sweetened soft drink consumption.

"Both 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.

She 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.

In 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.

"Small 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
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SOURCE American Heart Association
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