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Salty Foods Make Kids Want Sugary Drinks (News Flash!)

Children's favorite salty snack?
Children's favorite salty snack?
Flickr/bingbing

In the "duh" study of the week, Medpage Today reports that kids and teens who eat salty foods are more likely to crave sugary drinks, potentially raising their risk for obesity, according to Australian researchers.

The study of 4,283 Australian children ages 2 to 16 found salt consumption was positively associated with drinking sugar-sweetened beverages, according to Caryl Nowson, Ph.D., of Deakin University in Victoria, Australia, and colleagues. It also increased their obesity risk by 26%.

And -- now this is stunning -- the more salt they ate, the more sugary drinks they drank! For every 1 gram of salt consumed, kids drank 17 grams of sugar-sweetened beverages. The findings were published in the journal Pediatrics.

The researchers noted that after a patient consumes salt, "there is a subsequent rise in the plasma sodium concentration, and to maintain body fluid homeostasis, thirst is stimulated, thus promoting fluid intake."

Wait. Are they saying salt makes you thirsty?

Data was collected through the 2007 Australian National Children's Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey, as well as through two 24-hour recalls of dietary salt, fluid, and sugar-sweetened beverage consumption that were taken by face-to-face interview and phone. (In other words: "What did you eat and drink yesterday?")

Sugar-sweetened beverages included sodas, fruit drinks, flavored mineral waters, sports drinks and energy drinks.

Participants consumed about 6.3 grams of salt and 1,438 grams of fluid per day. Some 62% reported consuming a sugary drink, about 248 grams a day. Older children and those of lower socioeconomic status were more likely to consume sugary drinks. Kids who drank more than one sugary beverage a day were 34% more likely to be overweight or obese.

Among children who drank a sugary drink, each additional gram of salt consumed in a day was associated with an additional 30 grams of sugary beverages.

Overall, after adjusting for age, gender, socioeconomic status, and energy derived from other sources, each additional gram of salt consumed in a day was associated with an additional 17 grams of sugary drinks.

The authors concluded that "a reduction in salt intake in children may assist in reducing the amount of sugar-sweetened beverages consumed, which in turn may lower childhood obesity risk."

(Oddly, Flamin Hot Cheetos were never mentioned.)

Oh you Aussies. You're hilarious.


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