Obesity Kids
Dana Garcia, 8, walks home after a medical check-up in Medellin February 26, 2015. Garcia weighs 90 kilograms (198 pounds) which is about 65 kilograms (143 pounds) above the average weight for her age, according to doctors. Reuters/Fredy Builes

Australian researchers have warned that children who have lots of salt in their daily food intake are at risk of turning overweight or obese. This warning is in contrast to New York City’s (NYC) easing of salt warning rule. An appeals court on Monday temporarily stopped NYC from enforcing the rule requiring chain restaurants to post sodium warnings on menu items.

An Appellate Division First Department judge granted an interim stay of enforcement of the rule, reports Reuters. Had the law been enforced, then violators would have been charged US$200 (AU$281) as fine.

The rule, a first of its kind on the US, applies for city restaurants that have 15 or more locations nationwide to put a salt shaker enclosed in a black triangle as a warning next to menu items that have more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium. That is the daily limit recommended by the federal government.

However, the Australian researchers are of the opinion that excess salt is very harmful for kids. While children should have around 4-5 grams a day, a study puts the average intake of salt at six grams.

Lead researcher Dr. Carley Grimes from Deakin University said that for every additional gram of salt children eat, they had a 23 percent greater likelihood of being overweight or obese. This high intake of salt intake by children paves way for more serious health issues later on in life such as heart diseases and high blood pressure, writes Herald Sun.

Maximum salt intake comes from everyday food like ham, sausages, bread and cheese. The researchers also found abdominal obesity higher in kids with higher salt intake. This Australia-first study involved 666 Victorian primary schoolchildren aged four to 12.

“Because we excrete most of the salt that we eat each day in our urine, we asked children to collect their urine for a whole day. We found that 70 percent of Australian children are eating over the maximum amount of salt recommended for good health,” said Grimes.

The link between obesity risk and salt intake cannot be explained by a child’s total energy consumption. According to Prof. Garry Jennings, CEO, National Heart Foundation, children who develop the habit of eating excess salt earlier in life may continue doing so throughout their lives.

Thus, food labels with salt warning are a must to control salt intake.

“We are confident, despite the stay of enforcement for now, that the court will uphold the sodium warning rule,” said Department of Health in a statement.

It will keep on warning chains if they are not following the rule but won’t issue violations while the stay is in place.