Salt consumption in adolescents linked to obesity.

saltA new study published in the journal of pediatrics has confirmed the link between salt intake and obesity. The study examined the salt habits of 766 teens. Ninety-seven percent exceeded the daily recommended amount and consumed more than 1,500 milligrams of daily. The teens also had a high level of an inflammatory , called tumor necrosis factor alpha, which is secreted by immune cells and leptin a hormone produced by fat cells. Normally leptin suppresses appetite and burns fat, but if present at chronically high levels it has the opposite effect.

“The majority of studies in humans show the more food you eat, the more salt you consume, the fatter you are,” said Dr. Haidong Zhu, molecular geneticist at the Medical College of Georgia and Institute of Public and Preventive Health at Georgia Regents University.

“Our study adjusted for what these young people ate and drank and there was still a between salt intake and obesity,” Zhu said.

“Losing weight is difficult, but hopefully more people can be successful at reducing their intake,” said Zhu, the study’s corresponding author.

“We hope these findings will reinforce for parents and pediatricians alike that daily about how much salt children consume can set the stage for fatness, and a host of associated diseases like hypertension and diabetes,” said study co-author Dr. Gregory Harshfield, Director of the Georgia Prevention Center at the GRU institute.

“Obesity has a lot of contributing factors, including physical inactivity,” Zhu said. “We think that high intake could be one of those factors.”

Adolescents are encouraged to choose fresh over French fries and processed meats and .


H. Zhu, N. K. Pollock, I. Kotak, B. Gutin, X. Wang, J. Bhagatwala, S. Parikh, G. A. Harshfield, Y. Dong. Dietary , Adiposity, and Inflammation in Healthy Adolescents. PEDIATRICS, 2014; DOI: 10.1542/peds.2013-1794

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