Salt Intake of Children and Adolescents in South London
Consumption Levels and Dietary Sources
Since 2003/2004, the United Kingdom has implemented a salt reduction campaign; however, there are no data on salt intake in children as assessed by 24-hour urinary sodium, the gold standard method, to inform this campaign. We performed a cross-sectional study, involving South London school children across 3 age tiers: young children (5- to 6-year olds), intermediate-aged children (8- to 9-year olds), and adolescents (13- to 17-year olds). Dietary salt intake was measured by 24-hour urinary sodium excretion and compared with newly derived maximum salt intake recommendations. In addition, dietary sources of salt were assessed using a 24-hour photographic food diary. Valid urine collections were provided by 340 children (162 girls, 178 boys). The mean salt intakes were 3.75 g/d (95% confidence interval, 3.49–4.01), 4.72 g/d (4.33–5.11), and 7.55 g/d (6.88–8.22) for the 5- to 6-year olds, 8- to 9-year olds, and 13- to 17-year olds, respectively. Sixty-six percent of the 5- to 6-year olds, 73% of the 8- to 9-year olds, and 73% of 13- to 17-year olds had salt intake above their maximum daily intake recommendations. The major sources of dietary salt intake were cereal and cereal-based products (36%, which included bread 15%), meat products (19%), and milk and milk products (11%). 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.
- Received August 20, 2013.
- Revision received September 5, 2013.
- Accepted January 14, 2014.
- © 2014 American Heart Association, Inc.