Salt Adding to Childhood Obesity Problem

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Science Story - October 2008  


Tex Med . 2008;104(10):52.  

By  Ken Ortolon
Senior Editor  

Reducing salt consumption among children could have a dramatic impact in reducing their risk of obesity, according to a study published recently in Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association .

The study found a strong correlation between salt intake and consumption of fluids, particularly sugar-sweetened soft drinks. Reducing salt intake by 1 gram daily would result in a 100-gram decrease in fluid consumption, including a 27-gram reduction in sugary beverages, the researchers concluded.

The researchers recommended that physicians address salt intake during patient visits and that parents check nutrition labels, choose low-salt products, and avoid adding salt when preparing or seasoning foods.

Vincent Fonseca, MD, a member of Texas Medical Association's Council on Scientific Affairs, says the study clearly shows that sodium intake "feeds into the pediatric obesity problem." He would like to see Texas schools take steps to reduce sodium levels in food served in school lunchrooms. One step would be to implement the Dietary Guidelines for Americans published jointly in 2005 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture, which reduced recommended sodium levels from guidelines published in 2000.

Texas Commissioner of Agriculture Todd Staples, who oversees the Texas school lunch program, says sodium intake "is an area of interest" for his agency. "We look forward to working with the Texas Public Health Coalition and others who can help articulate what those standards need to be and make sure that our policies meet those standards," he said.

Ken Ortolon can be reached by telephone at (800) 880-1300, ext. 1392, or (512) 370-1392; by fax at (512) 370-1629; or by email at  Ken Ortolon.  


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