High sodium and low potassium intake among Italian children: relationship with age, body mass and blood pressure.PLoS One. 2015; 10(4):e0121183.Plos
Hypertension is the leading cause of death in developed countries and reduction of salt intake is recommended as a key preventive measure.
To assess the dietary sodium and potassium intakes in a national sample of Italian children and adolescents and to examine their relationships with BMI and blood pressure (BP) in the framework of the MINISAL survey, a program supported by the Italian Ministry of Health.
POPULATION AND METHODS
The study population included 1424 healthy subjects (766 boys, 658 girls) aged 6-18 years (mean age: 10.1±2.9) who were consecutively recruited in participating National Health Service centers in 10 Italian regions. Electrolyte intake was estimated from 24 hour urine collections tested for completeness by the concomitant measurement of creatinine content. Anthropometric indices and BP were measured with standardized procedures.
The average estimated sodium intake was 129 mmol (7.4 g of salt) per day among boys and 117 mmol (6.7 g of salt) among girls. Ninety-three percent of the boys and 89% of the girls had a consumption higher than the recommended age-specific standard dietary target. The estimated average daily potassium intakes were 39 mmol (1.53 g) and 36 mmol (1.40 g), respectively, over 96% of the boys and 98% of the girls having a potassium intake lower than the recommended adequate intake. The mean sodium/potassium ratio was similar among boys and girls (3.5 and 3.4, respectively) and over 3-fold greater than the desirable level. Sodium intake was directly related to age, body mass and BP in the whole population.
The Italian pediatric population is characterized by excessive sodium and deficient potassium intake. These data suggest that future campaigns should focus on children and adolescents as a major target in the framework of a population strategy of cardiovascular prevention.