New Zealand adults consume '40 percent more sodium' than recommended

4:59 pm on 5 October 2019

Researchers are looking at what our children are eating, as they try to reduce the chance of heart attacks later in life.

No caption

New Zealand adults eat 40 percent more sodium and 10 percent less potassium than recommendations. Photo: 123RF

Data from 300 Auckland children aged between eight and 11 will focus on how much salt and potassium they consume.

Dr Helen Eyles from the University of Auckland said very little was known about children's diets in New Zealand, with the most recent children's Nutritional Survey undertaken in 2002.

She said diets high in sodium and low in potassium in childhood could lead to plaque silently building up around a heart's arteries and high blood pressure also leads to cardiovascular disease.

"We know that ideal sodium and potassium intake is important across the lifecycle because changes to the vascular system start very early in life. In New Zealand, one in five adults has high blood pressure, and this burden is unequal, with Māori being 30 percent more likely than non-Māori to have high blood pressure."

Dr Eyles said the preference for salty food started early and New Zealand adults currently consumed 40 percent more sodium and 10 percent less potassium than recommendations.

The findings of the latest research will also set a benchmark for manufacturers when it comes to adding salt to fast food and help healthcare practitioners identify people with high sodium and low potassium diets.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs