Reducing sodium intake to control blood pressure in children
Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the leading cause of death globally. An estimated 17.6 million people died from CVDs in 2016, representing 32% 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 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.
Other guidance documents
Prevention of cardiovascular disease: Guideline for assessment and management of cardiovascular risk
Diet, nutrition and the prevention of chronic diseases: Report of the joint WHO/FAO expert consultation, WHO Technical Report Series, No. 916 (TRS 916)
Systematic reviews used to develop the guidelines
Effect of reduced sodium intake on blood pressures and potential adverse effects in children
Effect of reduced sodium intake on blood pressure, renal function, blood lipids and other potential adverse effects
Effect of lower sodium intake on health: systematic review and meta-analyses
Related Cochrane reviews
Effects of low sodium diet versus high sodium diet on blood pressure, renin, aldosterone, catecholamines, cholesterol, and triglyceride