Sodium Intake Linked to Adolescent Obesity: Teens Eat Too Much Salt

First Posted: Feb 03, 2014 01:49 PM EST

Researchers at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regent University found that many adolescents consume the same amount of salt as adults, with some consuming more than twice the recommended daily allowance. Regardless of calorie consumption, this high sodium intake is directly correlated with fatness and obesity.

The study featured 766 healthy teenagers. A total of 97 percent of these teens reported that they exceeded the American Heart Association's recommended sodium intake of 1,500 milligrams daily. The results of the study were published in the journal Pediatrics.

"The majority of studies in humans show the more food you eat, the more salt you consume, the fatter you are," said Dr. Haidong Zhu, molecular geneticist at the Medical College of Georgia and Institute of Public and Preventive Health at Georgia Regents University, in this EurekAlert! article. "Our study adjusted for what these young people ate and drank and there was still a correlation between salt intake and obesity."

Not only did sodium intake show a correlation in overweight and obese individuals, it also showed that these individuals had high levels of tumor necrosis factor alpha (which contributes to chronic inflammation, lupus and arthritis) and high levels of leptin (a hormone that suppresses appetite and burns fats, but has reverse effects when at high levels).

Increased water retention is another product of high sodium intake as well as a catalyst for weight gain. Although water retention was not a proven causal effect for obesity in the study, the fact that high sodium intake is directly correlated with obesity can help later unearth more evidence about this belief.

"We hope these findings will reinforce for parents and pediatricians alike that daily decisions about how much salt children consume can set the stage for fatness, chronic inflammation and a host of associated diseases like hypertension and diabetes," said study co-author Dr. Gregory Harshfield, Director of the Georgia Prevention Center at the GRU institute, in this EurekAlert! article.

To read more about high sodium and obesity, click on the link above.

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