Will salt intake make you fat?

Maybe.  According to a recent study (Pediatrics 2013; 131: 14-20), salt intake is associated with consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB); hence, it might make you fat.

This cross-sectional study used data (4283 participants, ages 2-16 years) from the 2007 Australian National Children’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey.  Calculation of dietary intake (salt, fluid, sugary beverages) was determined by looking at two 24-hour dietary recalls.

Each gram of salt was associated with a 46 gram intake of fluid.  Of those who took SSB (n=2571), salt intake was associated with increased consumption of SSB; each gram of salt was associated with a 17 gram increased intake of SSB.  Participants with SSB intake of more than 1 serving (≥250 g), in turn, were 26% more likely to be overweight/obese (odds ratio 1.26).

Study limitations included the following:

  • 24-hour dietary recalls which likely underrepresented salt intake
  • Salt intake may be clustered with other ‘unhealthy’ dietary habits.  Thus, it may be a marker for undesirable diet rather than a causal factor.

Conclusion: Besides lowering blood pressure and lowering the risk of kidney stones, reducing salt intake may help with obesity prevention.

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