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Too much salt ups obesity risk in adolescents

06 February, 2014

LAHORE: Adolescents consuming more than twice the recommended daily allowance of salt increases their high sodium intake that correlates with fatness and inflammation regardless of how many calories they consume, a new study has found.

In the study of 766 healthy teens, 97 percent self-reported exceeding the American Heart Association's recommendation of consuming less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium daily.

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

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

These high-sodium consumers also had high levels of tumour necrosis factor alpha, which is secreted by immune cells and contributes to chronic inflammation as well as autoimmune diseases like lupus and arthritis.

Additionally, the adolescents had high levels of leptin, a hormone produced by fat cells that normally suppresses appetite and burns fat, but at chronically high levels can have the opposite effects.

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

Reductions would result from not automatically adding salt to food and choosing fresh fruits and vegetables over French fries and processed meats and snacks.

The study is published in the journal Pediatrics.

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