Australian infants under two years of age have excessive salt intake putting them at high risk of developing cardiovascular diseases later in life.
High sodium intake during infancy and early childhood can change salt preference and blood pressure trajectories across life, representing a modifiable cardiovascular risk factor. Monitoring young children’s sodium intake is important for informing effective targets for sodium reduction.
A latest study by Researchers from Deakin University in Melbourne surveyed the diets of 295 children at nine months of age and again at 18 months, with the aim to describe food sources and demographic and behavioral correlates of sodium intake. Differences in individual-level and family-level demographic and behavioral variables were assessed across tertiles of sodium density (mg/1,000 kcal). Descriptive statistics were used to describe food-group contributions to total energy and sodium intakes at both ages.
The study showed that mean salt intakes was 486 mg at nine months and had more than doubled to 1,069 mg (standard deviation=331 mg) at 18 months of age. Such intake levels exceed the adequate intake (AI) levels recommended for children in Australia and New Zealand (NHMRC 2006). The AI is 170 mg for infants unde 12 months of age, and 200-400 mg for children aged between one and three years of age. The upper level of intake should not exceeding 1000 mg for this age group. Fifty-four percent of children at 18 months exceeded the Recommended Daily Upper Level for sodium intake. The foods responsible for high sodium intakes were bread, cheese, breakfast cereal, soup, processed meat and yeast extract spreads.
Salt is added to many of daily basic foods. Parents are unintentionally feeding their children diets too high in salt. The key food sources of sodium for children younger than 2 years are those that contribute to the whole population’s high salt burden. This latest study highlights need to reduce salt in everyday foods, and the essential role governments and food industry must play to reduce salt in commonly consumed foods.
KJ Campbell et al. J Acad Nutr Diet (2014). doi:
10.1016/j.jand.2014.04.028. [Epub ahead of print