CDC Misleads Public with Inconclusive Study on Salt and Children

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Salt Institute Cites Report’s Own Caveats

Salt reduction efforts will actually exacerbate the obesity crisis.

A recent paper from the CDC on childhood salt consumption and blood pressure (Sodium Intake and Blood Pressure Among U.S. Children and Adolescents) misleads the public according to the Salt Institute. Instead of measuring sodium intake using 24-hour urine collection and analysis, the scientific standard, the CDC study relies on interviewing children and asking them what they have eaten and then calculating the sodium content of these foods.

"The authors of this study also do not make any effort to describe the sodium content of the diet the individuals evaluated consumed. All things being equal, it is obvious that those who consume more total food will also consume more total sodium. The problem is not the salt content of the food but the amount of food consumed," said Morton Satin, Vice President of Science and Research of the Salt Institute.

The attempt of the CDC to link sodium consumption and obesity is also facetious since the authors fail to describe the physical activity of the different individuals they evaluated. Children who engage in more physical activity will be less likely to develop obesity even given the same diet with the same sodium content as less active children. The key factor in determining hypertension and pre-hypertension in children had more to do with the incidence of obesity than it did with sodium intake.

The CDC report itself admits this very point, buried on page 651, “Although we observed a non-significant association between sodium intake and BP or risk for pre-HBP/HBP among normal-weight children, it should not be interpreted as indicating a null effect of high sodium intake on BP.”

According to Satin, “It is a sad fact that the CDC’s own results clearly demonstrate that when the level of salt in foods is reduced, children will simply consume more food in order to satisfy their natural need for salt. In effect, salt reduction efforts will actually exacerbate the obesity crisis.”

What the paper does demonstrate is that our current level of salt consumption, when combined with a balanced energy intake to energy expenditure leads to good health. The problem of childhood obesity is a separate issue and should be dealt with as such.


The Salt Institute is a North American based non-profit trade association dedicated to advancing the many benefits of salt, particularly to ensure winter roadway safety, quality water and healthy nutrition.

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Morton Satin
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