BURWOOD, AUSTRALIA — Children who consume foods with high amounts of salt also tend to drink more sugary beverages, leading to potentially unhealthy weight gain, according to a new study from researchers at the Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research, School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Deakin University, Burwood.

The study, which appears in the Dec. 10 on-line and January print issue of Pediatrics, examined data from the 2007 Australian National Children’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey that was based on two 24-hour dietary recalls. The survey looked at 4,283 Australian children aged 2 to 16 to determine the association among dietary salt, fluid and sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and weight status.

Researchers found that of the 4,283 participants, 62% reported consuming sugar-sweetened beverages. In this group, children who consumed more salt consumed more fluid, and in particular, more sugar-sweetened beverages. Children who consumed more than one sugary drink per day were 34% more likely to be overweight or obese, the researchers said.

The researchers also found that for every 1 gram of salt consumed per day, the children drank 46 grams more fluid, with those who reported consuming sugar-sweetened beverages drinking 17 grams more for every 1 gram of salt.

Carley A. Grimes, lead researcher on the study, said the results show attention needs to be paid to the amount of salt children are consuming in order to avoid unhealthy eating patterns.

“High salt diets not only put children at risk of serious long-term health problems, such as developing high blood pressure later in life, which is a major cause of stroke and heart disease, they are likely to be contributing to the rates of overweight and obesity,” she said.