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Salty foods may boost childhood obesity

Children who eat less salt, drink fewer sugar-sweetened soft drinks and may significantly lower their risks of obesity, research shows.

Previous research has found that dietary salt increases the amount of fluid consumed by adults, this is the first study to suggest the same may be true for children.

Lead author Feng He said: “Sugar-sweetened soft drinks are a source of calorie intake in children.

“It has been shown that sugar-sweetened soft drink consumption is related to obesity in young people. However, it is unclear whether there is a link between salt intake and sugar-sweetened soft drink consumption.”

Experts analysed the diets of more than 2,000 children aged between 4 and 18 years.

Children who ate a lower-salt diet drank fewer sugar-sweetened soft drinks.

He added: “Both high blood pressure and obesity increase the risk of having strokes and heart attacks.

“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.”

Ruiari O'Connor of the British Heart Foundation said: “When children regularly swill down salty foods with sugary, calorie-laden soft drinks, it can mean double trouble for their future heart health.

“We strongly urge the government to introduce better food laelling to help patients choose healthier foods for their family, and put tighter restrictions on the marketing of junk food to children, as set out in our recent ‘protecting children' report.”

British Heart Foundation