Is Salt Making Your Child Fat?

It is believed that salt is having a secondary health risk for children, with researchers believing that it is making children fat. The theory is that salt found on crisps and chips are making children thirsty and they are quenching their thirst with sugary drinks. A study in Australia monitoring around 4,200 children found that those consuming high levels of salt were more likely to go for high calorie drinks to cure their thirst. The research from Deakin University found that this meant that they were at a much higher risk of unhealthy weight gain.

Ms Carley Grimes, lead author of the study, discussed that reducing levels of salt in a child’s diet may help to reduce the volume of sugary drinks they consume, which help to control rates of overweight and obesity in children. The researchers analysed information available from the 2007 Australian National Children’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey to find diet and physical activity information from children aged between two and sixteen. The main points of interest for the researchers involved levels of salt in diets alongside fluids and sugar sweetened drink intake.

The research uncovered that 62% of the children were reported to consume sugary drinks. The children who consumed more salt as part of their diet also consumed more fluid which was made up of sugary drinks particularly. It was also uncovered that children who consumed more than one sugary drink a day were 34% more likely to be overweight or obese. It was calculated that for every 1 gram of salt consumed a day; children drank 46 grams more fluid. Those children reported to drink sugary drinks were reported to drink 17 grams for each additional gram of salt.

Recent research into children’s eating habits undertaken at Deakin University discovered that children are eating around six grams of salt each day – this is four times the recommended level of consumption. Ms Grimes said that with previous information collected and that found in this most recent study, it is becoming even clearer that children’s salt consumption needs to be closely monitored in order to ensure that they live healthy and long lives.

Diets that contain high levels of salt are more likely to put children at risk of long term health problems like high blood pressure that can lead to even more serious conditions like heart disease and stroke. It also shows that as well as these serious health risks, it is likely to have a contributing effect towards weight gain and obesity.

Gareth writes on a number of health topics on behalf of AXA PPP healthcare who provide insurance for children as well as family protection