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Reducing Salt Intake May Help Reduce Childhood Obesity

Update Date: Dec 11, 2012 12:30 PM EST

Children's obesity is a concern for many parents these days, leaving them clueless as to how to strike a perfect balance feeding their child a healthy food, and not overfeeding them either.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years. Childhood obesity has both immediate and long-term effects on the health of children and numerous researches have been conducted in the last few years to get to the root cause or influencing factors of the epidemic, in order to eliminate or at least reduce it.

Experts for a long time have been emphasizing on the link between consumption of sugary drinks and junk food and rapidly increasing childhood obesity in the United States. However, through a new study, some researchers suggest that there may be a better way to prevent children from reaching for a sugary drink and save them from obesity epidemic: Salt intake.

"In addition to the known benefits of lowering blood pressure, salt reduction strategies may be useful in childhood obesity prevention efforts," concluded the researchers from the Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research at Deakin University in Burwood, Australia, was quoted as saying by CBS News.

For the study, the researchers analyzed the eating and drinking habits of 4,200 Australian kids aged between 2 and 16 years and found that those, whose salt intake was the most, also had the highest intake of sugary drinks.

The results of the study revealed that for every one gram of salt per day, children took in 17 grams per day more of a sugary drink, the report said

Also, older children and children who belonged to a lower socioeconomic status were more likely to have high sugary drinks intake.

It is long known that taking salt increases thirst. Though this study, the researchers are not establishing a cause and effect relationship salt intake and obesity, but are pointing at the ever-present need for people to eat healthier.

"We can't necessarily say childhood obesity is salt's fault -- or sugar-sweetened beverages' fault," Kirsti King, senior dietician at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston who is also a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, said to HealthDay.

"Children learn by example, so if high-sodium foods and sugar-sweetened beverages are readily available in the house and consumed by the parents on a regular basis, [kids] are going to be more likely to consume those as well."

The study was published on Dec. 10 online in Pediatrics.

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