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Children's diets contain 'too much salt'
The children's dietary salt intake was compared to the study's own maximum salt intake recommendations.
To identify the sources of salt in their diet, children were also provided with a digital camera and asked to photograph everything they ate over 24 hours. The parent or child was also asked to keep a detailed dietary record of the food and drinks consumed. Details of recipes used were requested, as well as brand names of products, cooking methods, and portion sizes using household measurers.
What were the basic results?
The average salt intakes were:
- 3.75g/day for five to six year olds
- 4.72g/day for eight to nine year olds
- 7.55g/day for 13 to 17 year olds.
Compared to the study's own maximum daily intake recommendations:
- 66% of five to six year old children ate too much salt
- 73% of eight to nine year olds ate too much salt
- 73% of 13 to 17 year olds ate too much salt
The main sources of dietary salt were cereal-based products, such as bread, breakfast cereals, biscuits, cakes, pasta and rice (36%), meat products, including chicken, turkey, sausages and ham (19%), milk and milk products, such as cheese (11%).
How did the researchers interpret the results?
The researchers concluded "this study demonstrates that salt intake in children in south London is high, with most of the salt coming from processed foods. Much further effort is required to reduce the salt content of manufactured foods."
This study has found that salt intake in 340 children in south London is high. The researchers have proposed new maximum recommendations for salt intake based on recommendations for adults adjusted for differences in body size. Based on the study's own recommendations on salt intake, around two-thirds of five to six year olds, and three-quarters of those aged eight to nine and 13 to 17 had too much salt in their diet.
The scope of the study has some limitations. It provides a single snapshot of the salt levels of a relatively small sample of children from south London. It doesn't tell us whether the same results would consistently be obtained if salt levels were measured on a number of different occasions in these children; or in a sample of children from another area. They also cannot tell us whether there are any detrimental health effects of this level of salt consumption.
"Children eat too much salt," reports The Daily Telegraph, one of several news outlets to report on new findings that have led researchers to call for further reductions in the salt content of processed food...
Links to Headlines
Children's diets 'far too salty'. BBC News, March 11 2014
Children eat too much salt, researchers find. The Daily Telegraph, March 11 2014
Links to Science
Marrero NM, Feng JH and MacGregor GA. Salt Intake of Children and Adolescents in South London. Hypertension. Published March 10 2014
Consensus Action on Salt and Health. Teenagers unknowingly putting their health at risk by eating too much salt. Published March 11 2014
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