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Dietary intake and sources of sodium and potassium among Australian schoolchildren: results from the cross-sectional Salt and Other Nutrients in Children (SONIC) study

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posted on 2017-10-01, 00:00 authored by Carley GrimesCarley Grimes, Lynn RiddellLynn Riddell, Karen CampbellKaren Campbell, Kelsey Beckford, J R Baxter, F J He, Caryl NowsonCaryl Nowson
OBJECTIVES: To examine sodium and potassium urinary excretion by socioeconomic status (SES), discretionary salt use habits and dietary sources of sodium and potassium in a sample of Australian schoolchildren. DESIGN: Cross-sectional study. SETTING: Primary schools located in Victoria, Australia. PARTICIPANTS: 666 of 780 children aged 4-12 years who participated in the Salt and Other Nutrients in Children study returned a complete 24-hour urine collection. PRIMARY AND SECONDARY OUTCOME MEASURES: 24-hour urine collection for the measurement of sodium and potassium excretion and 24-hour dietary recall for the assessment of food sources. Parent and child reported use of discretionary salt. SES defined by parental highest level of education. RESULTS: Participants were 9.3 years (95% CI 9.0 to 9.6) of age and 55% were boys. Mean urinary sodium and potassium excretion was 103 (95% CI 99 to 108) mmol/day (salt equivalent 6.1 g/day) and 47 (95% CI 45 to 49) mmol/day, respectively. Mean molar Na:K ratio was 2.4 (95% CI 2.3 to 2.5). 72% of children exceeded the age-specific upper level for sodium intake. After adjustment for age, sex and day of urine collection, children from a low socioeconomic background excreted 10.0 (95% CI 17.8 to 2.1) mmol/day more sodium than those of high socioeconomic background (p=0.04). The major sources of sodium were bread (14.8%), mixed cereal-based dishes (9.9%) and processed meat (8.5%). The major sources of potassium were dairy milk (11.5%), potatoes (7.1%) and fruit/vegetable juice (5.4%). Core foods provided 55.3% of dietary sodium and 75.5% of potassium while discretionary foods provided 44.7% and 24.5%, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: For most children, sodium intake exceeds dietary recommendations and there is some indication that children of lower socioeconomic background have the highest intakes. Children are consuming about two times more sodium than potassium. To improve sodium and potassium intakes in schoolchildren, product reformulation of lower salt core foods combined with strategies that seek to reduce the consumption of discretionary foods are required.



BMJ open





Article number



1 - 10


BMJ Publishing Group


London, Eng.





Publication classification

C Journal article; C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2017, the authors