US Teens Exceeding Daily Recommended Salt Limits, Increasing Obesity Risk

People-eat-more-fast-food-as-income-risesConsumption of excess salt by American teenagers is the main cause of their obesity and inflammation, suggests new research published in the journal Pediatrics.

The researchers, from Medical College of Georgia and the Institute of Public and Preventive Health at Georgia Regents University, looked at 766 healthy teens and found that 97 percent  exceeded the American Heart Association’s recommended 1,500 milligrams of sodium a day. Some are consuming nearly double the intake limit amount.

Regardless of the number of calories consumed, a high-sodium diet is associated with teen obesity and inflammation.

The teens were both white and Black, between the ages of 14 through 18, and attended a local high school in the Augusta, Ga., area. Every other risk factor that correlates with obesity was accounted for, but sodium intake is independently associated to higher risk of obesity, according to lead study author, Dr. Haidong Zhu.

Those teens who consumed high amounts of sodium had higher levels of “tumor necrosis factor alpha,” which originates in immune cells and can cause inflammation leading to serious immune problems such as arthritis and lupus.

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

Sodium is also know to cause water retention in body, thus leading to weight gain or even a “puffy” appearance.

The average sodium intake for the teens in the study was 3,280 milligrams per day.

Reduction of sodium intake is not only found by eating less, but also reducing processed foods from the diet and increasing  fresh fruits and vegetables.

S.C. Rhyne is a blogger and novelist in New York City. Follow the author on twitter @ReporterandGirl or on and visit her website at

Back to top