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Catherine Holecko

Put down the salt shaker

By December 11, 2012

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New research draws a link from salt to childhood obesity, via sugar-sweetened beverages. The theory: Eating too much salt makes kids thirsty; they then drink sugar-sweetened beverages (such as soda, fruit drinks, sports and energy drinks), and are more likely to be overweight.

Researchers in Australia investigated this topic with more than 4,000 children, ages 2 to 16. Those who consumed more than one daily serving of sugar-sweetened beverages were 26% more likely to be overweight. The study also found that older kids were more likely to consume sweet drinks, as were children of lower socioeconomic status. But Australian children still consumer fewer sugary drinks than American children do.

The study's recommendation: Cut back on salt (and hiding the salt shaker won't necessarily do the job; there is a lot of sodium in processed foods). "In addition to the known benefits of lowering blood pressure, salt reduction strategies may be useful in childhood obesity prevention efforts," the researchers note in their study, published online this week by the journal Pediatrics.

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