BMJ Open 3:e002106 doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2012-002106
  • Public health
    • Research

Is socioeconomic status associated with dietary sodium intake in Australian children? A cross-sectional study

  1. Caryl A Nowson
  1. Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research, School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Deakin University, Burwood, Victoria, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Ms Carley A Grimes; carley.grimes{at}
  • Received 27 September 2012
  • Revised 16 January 2013
  • Accepted 17 January 2013
  • Published 8 February 2013


Objective To assess the association between socioeconomic status (SES) and dietary sodium intake, and to identify if the major dietary sources of sodium differ by socioeconomic group in a nationally representative sample of Australian children.

Design Cross-sectional survey.

Setting 2007 Australian National Children's Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey.

Participants A total of 4487 children aged 2–16 years completed all components of the survey.

Primary and secondary outcome measures Sodium intake was determined via one 24 h dietary recall. The population proportion formula was used to identify the major sources of dietary salt. SES was defined by the level of education attained by the primary carer. In addition, parental income was used as a secondary indicator of SES.

Results Dietary sodium intake of children of low SES background was 2576 (SEM 42) mg/day (salt equivalent 6.6 (0.1) g/day), which was greater than that of children of high SES background 2370 (35) mg/day (salt 6.1 (0.1) g/day; p<0.001). After adjustment for age, gender, energy intake and body mass index, low SES children consumed 195 mg/day (salt 0.5 g/day) more sodium than high SES children (p<0.001). Low SES children had a greater intake of sodium from processed meat, gravies/sauces, pastries, breakfast cereals, potatoes and potato snacks (all p<0.05).

Conclusions Australian children from a low SES background have on average a 9% greater intake of sodium from food sources compared with those from a high SES background. Understanding the socioeconomic patterning of salt intake during childhood should be considered in interventions to reduce cardiovascular disease.

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