e-Library of Evidence for Nutrition Actions (eLENA)

Reducing sodium intake to control blood pressure in children

Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the leading cause of death globally. An estimated 17.5 million people died from CVDs in 2012, representing 31% of all deaths worldwide. High blood pressure (hypertension) is a major risk for CVDs. Children with elevated blood pressure are at high risk of CVD pathology during childhood, and are also at high risk for hypertension and CVDs as adults.

Evidence shows that reducing sodium intake significantly reduces blood pressure in adults and children. Sodium is found not only in table salt, but also naturally in a variety of foods, including milk, cream, eggs, meat and shellfish. It is also found in much high amounts in processed foods, such as breads, crackers, processed meats like bacon and snack foods such as pretzels, cheese puffs and popcorn, as well as in condiments such as soy sauce, fish sauce, and bouillon or stock cubes.

WHO recommendations

WHO recommends a reduction in sodium intake to control blood pressure in children aged 2–15 years.

The recommended maximum level of intake of 2 g/day sodium in adults should be adjusted downward based on the energy requirements of children relative to those of adults.


These recommendations complement the WHO guideline on potassium consumption and should not be interpreted to replace or supersede that guideline. Public health interventions should aim to reduce sodium intake and simultaneously increase potassium intake through foods. Additional information can be found in the guidance summary, and in the guideline under 'WHO documents' below.

WHO documents

WHO documents

GRC-approved guidelines
Other guidance documents


Systematic reviews used to develop the guidelines
Related Cochrane reviews
Clinical trials

Last update:

27 January 2017 14:04 CET

Category 1 intervention

Guidelines have been recently approved by the WHO Guidelines Review Committee

Global targets

Implementation of this intervention may contribute to the achievement of the following targets:

Global NCD targets

Target 4: A 30% relative reduction in mean population intake of salt/sodium

Target 6: A 25% relative reduction in the prevalence of raised blood pressure or contain the prevalence of raised blood pressure, according to national circumstances