High salt intake ‘may boost obesity risk’

By Michael Stones contact

- Last updated on GMT

A high salt intake could boost the risk of obesity, claims new research
A high salt intake could boost the risk of obesity, claims new research

Related tags: Salt intake, Obesity

High salt intakes may boost the risk of obesity in both adults and children, claims new research.

Researchers have suggested, for the first time, that there may be a direct link between salt intake and obesity, independent of total energy intake or sugar sweetened beverage consumption, according to the research published in the journal Hypertension​.

A UK-wide study was said to have revealed a link between a 1g/day rise in salt intake and an increased risk of being overweight or obese by 28% in children and 26% in adults.

The results were claimed to reveal a consistent and significant link between salt intake and body mass index, waist circumference and body fat mass – independent of total energy intake and sugar-sweetened beverage consumption.

‘The biggest cause of ill health’

Graham MacGregor, professor of cardiovascular medicine at Queen Mary University of London and chairman of Consensus Action on Salt & Health, said: “The food we eat is now the biggest cause of ill health through its high salt, fat and sugar content added by the food industry.

​High blood pressure and obesity both lead to the development of cardiovascular disease, stroke, heart attacks and heart failure, which are the commonest causes of death and disability in the UK.”

But the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) stressed food manufacturers’ efforts to cut salt levels.

FDF director of regulation, science and health Barbara Gallani said: “We know that salt intakes in the UK are currently exceeding dietary recommendations, and the food industry has worked hard over a number of years to reduce the levels of salt in foods.”

Salt and obesity

“The suggestion of a direct link between salt intakes and obesity that CASH has reported is interesting, although more research is needed to identify any potential mechanisms involved.”

  • Barbara Gallani, FDF

As a result, salt intakes in the UK have fallen by 1.4g/day over the past 10 years, and this work was continuing, she said.

Salt intakes have fallen by 1.4g/day

“The suggestion of a direct link between salt intakes and obesity that CASH has reported is interesting, although more research is needed to identify any potential mechanisms involved.”

Obesity was a complex issue and should be tackled via a range of initiatives including better nutrition education and provision of choice to consumers, rather than through “an over simplistic focus on individual nutrients”, ​said Gallani.

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) said more research was needed to understand the impact of salt intake.

BHF senior dietitian Victoria Taylor said: “It’s well established that we should be reducing the amount of salt we eat to help avoid high blood pressure, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and the link between salt intake and obesity identified in this research could be another reason for us to do this.

“But more research is needed to understand what might be the reason for this link. Although the amount of salt we are eating has reduced in recent years, as a result of reformulation of manufactured foods, we are still exceeding recommended maximums.”

More information about the research is available here​.

Related news

Show more

Follow us

Products

View more

Webinars

PRODUCTS & SERVICES