Is SALT making children fat Youngsters left parched by crisps and chips are quenching their thirst with sugary drinks
Two thirds of children consumed sugar sweetened drink in the studyIn this group the more salt they consumed the more sugary beverages they drankThe children who consumed more than one sugary drink per day were 34% more likely to be overweight

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UPDATED:

15:57 GMT, 11 December 2012

Sweetened: Those who consumed high amounts of salt were also the most likely to reach for sugary drinks

Sweetened: Those who consumed high amounts of salt were also the most likely to reach for sugary drinks

Salty snacks could be fueling childhood obesity as they encourage youngsters to guzzle sweetened drinks to quench their thirst, say researchers.

A study of 4,200 children in Australia found those who consumed high amounts of salt were also the most likely to reach for high-calorie beverages. This put them at risk of unhealthy weight gain, according to the research from Deakin University.

Lead author, Ms Carley Grimes, said: 'Reducing salt in children’s diets may
help to reduce the amount of sugary drinks they consume and therefore
help with efforts to reduce the high rates of overweight and obesity.'

For the study the researchers analysed
data from the 2007 Australian National Children’s Nutrition and Physical
Activity Survey. The survey collected diet and physical activity
information from 4,283 children aged two to 16 years.

The Deakin
researchers looked at the children’s consumption of dietary salt, fluids
and sugar sweetened drinks.

They found 62 per cent reported
consuming sugar sweetened drinks. In this group, children who consumed
more salt consumed more fluid and in particular more sugar-sweetened
drinks. The children who consumed more than one sugary drink per day
were 34 per cent more likely to be overweight or obese.

The researchers also found that for
every one gram of salt consumed per day, the children drank 46 grams
more fluid, with those who reported consuming sugar sweetened drinks
drinking 17 grams more for every one gram of salt. There are 177grams in one fluid ounce of water.

Previous Deakin research has shown that
children are eating around six grams of salt a day or four times more
than is recommended.

Ms Grimes said that together with the
results of this new study, it is becoming even more clear that there is a
need to keep a closer eye on how much salt our children eat to help
ensure they lead long and healthy lives.

'High salt diets not only put children
at risk of serious long-term health problems, such as developing high
blood pressure later in life which is a major cause of stroke and heart
disease, they are likely to be contributing to the rates of overweight
and obesity,' she said.

The results of this study will be
published in the January 2013 issue of the journal Pediatrics.