A new study from Australia implicates sugar-sweetened beverages as a major cause of childhood obesity.  Rita Rubin at WebMD reports:

In the new study, children who drank at least one serving of a sugar-sweetened drink a day were 26% more likely to be overweight and obese.

We know that salt intake is a big driver of thirst, as the study’s author suggests:

“One of the reasons bars provide free salted nuts, snacks, and popcorn is that they know that eating these foods makes people thirsty, and they will buy more drinks,” she says.

For kids, who seem to have ready access to sugary beverages, one can assume that increased thirst can lead to increased intake of these nutritionally empty, but caloric drinks.  Of course, saltier foods (especially processed foods) may also be more caloric and lead to obesity as well.  And salt consumption, by raising blood pressure to high levels, has its own risks regarding the development of heart disease and stroke.

With this study in mind, it’s wise to keep the following in mind when it comes to salt:

  • When cooking, try to use very little (if any) salt.
  • Keep salt-shakers off the table — don’t add salt to your plate or food.
  • Try not to eat processed food (i.e. packaged food that has difficult-to-pronounce chemical ingredients).
  • Understand that restaurant food (especially at “fast-food” establishments) tends to be higher in sodium than freshly-prepared food at home.
  • Snack healthfully:  fruits and vegetables please.

Read abstract in Pediatrics here.

Read WebMD article here.

Read previous post about salt’s effect on blood pressure on The PediaBlog here.