(Australian Associated Press)
Children eating lots of salt have a greater risk of being overweight or obese, say Australian researchers.
While kids should be aiming to eat about 4-5 grams a day, a study found the average intake was six grams – more than a teaspoon.
“For every additional gram of salt children ate, this was associated with a 23 per cent greater likelihood of being overweight or obese,” said lead researcher Dr Carley Grimes from Deakin University.
“Such high intakes of salt are setting children up for a lifetime risk of future chronic disease such as high blood pressure and heart disease.”
Much of the salt came from everyday foods like bread, cheese, ham and sausages.
The Australia-first study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, involved 666 Victorian primary schoolchildren aged four to 12 to find out just how much salt kids are consuming.
“Because we excrete most of the salt that we eat each day in our urine, we asked children to collect their urine for a whole day,” she said.
“We found that 70 per cent of Australian children are eating over the maximum amount of salt recommended for good health.”
The prevalence of abdominal obesity also was found to be higher in children with a higher salt intake.
The researchers said the link between salt intake and obesity risk could not be explained by the children’s total energy consumption.
National Heart Foundation CEO, Professor Garry Jennings, said behaviours developed early in life, including a taste for salty food, can increase the chances of them continuing throughout life.
“Currently, Australians are eating the maximum daily amount of salt just from the everyday foods they buy,” he said.
“This doesn’t include salt added at the table, so many people will be eating much more.”
* check food labels, aim for foods with less than 400mg per 100g
* replace salt when cooking with lemon juice, garlic, vinegar, or herbs and spices
* train your tastebuds by reducing your salt intake gradually
* chose fresh foods, such as fruit and vegetables, and lower-salt versions of other products
Source: Heat Foundation