Salt-loving kids drink more sugary drinks: study

One way to reduce childhood obesity could be as simple as trimming back on salt, researchers of a new Australian study suggest.

Research published in the journal Pediatrics Monday shows that the more salt children consumed, the more they drank sugar-sweetened drinks.

Those children who drank more than a serving a day of sugary drinks were 26 percent more likely to be overweight or obese -- which suggests that salt may play a crucial role in tipping the scales for kids.

Researchers from Deakin University looked at more than 4,200 Australian children ages two to 16. On average, the boys in the study aged 12 to 19 drank nearly two cans of sugary soda a day, or 650 mL. Girls the same age drank a little less, about 414 mL.

On average, children who slurped up sugar-sweetened beverages -- sodas, fruit drinks, and sports and energy drinks -- consumed 6.5 grams of salt per day, compared to 5.8 grams of salt per day for the children who did not drink them.

For parents hoping to monitor salt intake in their child's diet, here are the daily recommended maximum amounts of salt as per the UK's National Health Service. Salt can also be called sodium chloride on nutritional labels. The simple way to determine salt levels from sodium is: salt = sodium x 2.5.

1 to 3 years: 2g salt a day (0.8g sodium)
4 to 6 years: 3g salt a day (1.2g sodium)
7 to 10 years: 5g salt a day (2g sodium)
11 years and over: 6g salt a day (2.4g sodium)

Access the study: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2012/12/05/peds.2012-1628.abstract

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