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Children and obesity

Research has shown that the current high salt diet of around 10g a day causes an increase fluid consumption of 350 mls per day than if the recommended lower salt diet of 5g/day was consumed [ 31]. It is known that, particularly among children, a large proportion of their fluid intake comes in the form of soft drinks (It is a known fact that 25% of fluid intake in the UK is made up of soft drinks). This increased soft drinks consumption amongst children has an influence on the rising incidence of obesity and on tooth decay in children.

A study published in 2006 would provide further evidence to support the link between salt and obesity [ 32]. The authors of the study note that until 1983 salt intake showed a decreasing trend in the United States. The prevalence of obesity was relatively low at this time and had remained essentially unchanged from early 1960s to early 1980s.

Sales of salt in the USA were reported to have increased more than 50% between the mid-1980s to the late 1990s. Between 1977 and 2001, energy intake from sweetened beverages increased on average by 135% in the United States. During the same period, the energy intake from milk declined by 38%. The overall effect on energy intake was a 278 kcal increase per person a day, with no compensating increase in energy expenditure. During 1999 to 2002, the prevalence of obesity was 120% higher among men and 99% higher among women as compared with the 1976 to 1980 figures.

The authors state that the progressive increase in the average intake of salt explains the parallel increase in the intake of beverages which, in turn, has contributed to a marked increase in the intake of calories during the same period in the USA.

Furthermore, a high salt intake makes children thirstier and while in school, it has been shown that children do not always drink enough fluid to keep their concentration going and protect their kidneys from disease.

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