Children’s study shows sodium-blood pressure link

by Jeff Gelski
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ATLANTA – Sodium intake was associated positively with systolic blood pressure and risk for pre-high blood pressure and high blood pressure among U.S. children in a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The association may be stronger among children who are overweight or obese, according to the study that appeared Sept. 17 in Pediatrics.

Researchers from the Atlanta-based C.D.C. estimated average daily sodium intake of 3,387 mg in the 6,235 children of the ages 8-18 who participated in NHANES 2003-08. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 recommends 2,300 mg of sodium or less per day for adults.

Mean adjusted systolic blood pressure increased progressively with sodium intake quartile. Sodium intake and weight status appeared to have synergistic effects on risk for pre-high blood pressure and high blood pressure. The study found the risk for high blood pressure among overweight and obese children rose 74% for every 1,000 mg of increased sodium intake per day, which compared to a 6% increase among children with a normal weight.

Morton Satin, vice-president, science and research for the Salt Institute, Alexandria, Va., said he found flaws in the study.

“This paper seems to represent the gradual shift of C.D.C.’s focus away from using hard science to clarify the human response to challenges to a form of advocacy-science in order to support a pre-determined agenda,” Dr. Satin said.

He said the study used dietary recall, which is not as accurate as 24-hour urine collection and analysis. Dr. Satin said he found no indication of the sodium content of the diets. If some of the children ate a bigger overall diet, they probably consumed more sodium.

“It is not that there is a higher level of sodium in the diet, it’s just more diet altogether — more food,” he said.

The American Heart Association, Dallas, said the study shows the need for a limit to the amount of salt in foods consumed by young people.

“It’s very disturbing that this nation’s children and teens consume too much salt in their diets at school and home,” said Nancy Brown, chief executive officer of the American Heart Association. “High blood pressure, once viewed as an adult illness, is now affecting more young people because of high sodium diets and increasing obesity.

“While new nutrition standards for school meals are helping, progress is slow. This study strongly underscores the need to move faster because our kids are on an early path to heart attacks and strokes.”

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