Dietary salt intake assessed by 24 h urinary sodium excretion in Australian schoolchildren aged 5-13 years

Public Health Nutr. 2013 Oct;16(10):1789-95. doi: 10.1017/S1368980012003679. Epub 2012 Aug 16.


Objective: To measure total daily salt intake using 24 h urinary Na excretion within a sample of Victorian schoolchildren aged 5-13 years and to assess discretionary salt use habits of children and parents.

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Setting: Completed within a convenience sample of independent primary schools (n 9) located in Victoria, Australia.

Subjects: Two hundred and sixty children completed a 24 h urine collection over a school (34%) or non-school day (66%). Samples deemed incomplete (n 18), an over-collection (n 1) or that were incorrectly processed at the laboratory (n 3) were excluded.

Results: The sample comprised 120 boys and 118 girls with a mean age of 9.8 (SD 1.7) years. The average 24 h urinary Na excretion (n 238) was 103 (SD 43) mmol/24 h (salt equivalent 6.0 (SD 2.5) g/d). Daily Na excretion did not differ by sex; boys 105 (SD 46) mmol/24 h (salt equivalent 6.1 (SD 2.7) g/d) and girls 100 (SD 41) mmol/24 h (salt equivalent 5.9 (SD 2.4) g/d; P=0.38). Sixty-nine per cent of children (n 164) exceeded the recommended daily Upper Limit for Na. Reported discretionary salt use was common: two-thirds of parents reported adding salt during cooking and almost half of children reported adding salt at the table.

Conclusions: The majority of children had salt intakes exceeding the recommended daily Upper Limit. Strategies to lower salt intake in children are urgently required, and should include product reformulation of lower-sodium food products combined with interventions targeting discretionary salt use within the home.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anthropometry
  • Australia
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cooking
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Nutrition Assessment*
  • Sodium Chloride, Dietary / administration & dosage*
  • Sodium Chloride, Dietary / urine*


  • Sodium Chloride, Dietary