(RxWiki News) Much attention has focused on the link between obesity and sugary drinks. But there are other clues in children's diets about how many sugary drinks they'll have - like how much salt they eat.
A recent study found that children's consuming more salt is linked to their drinking more fluids. More fluids means more sodas among the children who already drink sugary beverages.
And more sugary beverages was, in turn, linked to greater risk of obesity.
"Reduce kids' salt intake."
The study, led by Carley A. Grimes, from the Center for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research at Deakin University in Australia, aimed to see whether there was a link between children's salt intake and the number of sugary drinks they consumed.
They included 4,283 children, aged 2 to 16, from the 2007 Australian National Children's Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey. The researchers recorded what the children reported they had eaten over two full days and calculated the amount of salt, fluids and sugar-sweetened beverages they had consumed.
The researchers also determined the children's body mass index (BMI), a proportion of the children's height and weight that is used as an indicator of obesity or healthy weight.
Among all the participants, 62 percent reported consuming sugar-sweetened drinks. Older kids and kids from lower socioeconomic backgrounds were more likely to drink sugary drinks.
Unsurprisingly, the more salt was in the kids' diet, the more fluids they took in.
For each additional gram of salt the children had in their diet each day, they drank approximately 46 more grams of fluid each day – calculated after taking age, gender, socioeconomic background and BMI into account.
Accordingly, the researchers also found that the salt children consumed in their diet was related to how many sugar-sweetened beverages the kids drank.
Among the 2,571 children drinking sugar-sweetened beverages, for each extra gram of salt the kids ate, they drank 17 extra grams of sugar-sweetened beverages. This was true regardless of their overall calorie count each day.
In addition, the children who drank more than one serving of sugar-sweetened beverages a day were 26 percent more likely to be overweight or obese.
The researchers concluded children eating more salt were also drinking more fluids, including sugar-sweetened beverages. And drinking more sugary drinks was linked to obesity.
"Therefore, in addition to the known benefits of salt reduction on reducing blood pressure, a reduction in salt intake in children may assist in reducing the amount of SSB consumed, which in turn may lower childhood obesity risk," the researchers wrote.
Since the study was based on the children's (age 9 and up) or the parent's reporting of the food the child ate for two days during in-person and telephone interviews, this could be a weakness of the study.
The study data also only takes into account the sodium found in the foods the children reported eating – not any salt they added to their food at the table.
The researchers did account for how physically active the children were in their analysis, but this data was only available for a little over half the children.
The study was published December 10 in the journal Pediatrics. The research was funded by the Helen MacPherson Smith Trust Project and the Heart Foundation of Australia. The researchers declared no conflicts of interest.