High Salt Diet in Children and OBESITY

Danah Quintana from Bahrain Specialist Hospital tells us more

Children are considered a vulnerable group in society, often with little influence on or involvement in what they eat. Dietary habits in childhood and adolescence greatly influence eating patterns in later life. A liking for salt and salty foods is a learned taste preference and so it is vital that children do not develop a taste for salt in the first place. Further to this, a high salt intake in children can influence blood pressure and may predispose a child to the development of a number of diseases including: high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and respiratory illnesses such as asthma, stomach cancer and OBESITY.

A high salt diet of around 10g a day causes an increased fluid consumption of 350 ml per day, compared to the recommended lower salt diet of 5g/day. It is known that, particularly among children, a large proportion of their fluid intake comes in the form of soft drinks. This increased consumption of soft drinks amongst children has an influence on the rising incidence of obesity and on tooth decay in children. So,increase in the average intake of salt explains the parallel increase in the intake of artificial beverages which, in turn, has contributed to a marked increase in the intake of calories which leads to obesity.  A high salt intake makes children thirstier and while at school, it has been shown that children do not always drink enough fluid to keep their concentration going and protect their kidneys from disease.

Always remember that the infants’ and children’s preference to sodium is shaped by dietary exposure, so the less sodium children consume, lesser are the chances of them becoming obese.

Top Sodium Sources of People Aged 2–19 Years:

  • Pizza
  • Breads & rolls
  • Cold cuts & cured meats.
  • Sandwiches
  • Savory snacks
  • Ready packaged soups
  • Cheese
  • Mixed pasta dishes
  • Frankfurters & sausages

Danah Quintana
(Clinical Dietitian)
Bahrain Specialist Hospital
Email: danahquintana@bsh.com.bh