The average reported dietary Na intake of children in Australia is high: 2694 mg/d (9–13 years). No data exist describing food sources of Na in Australian children's diets and potential impact of Na reduction targets for processed foods. The aim of the present study was to determine sources of dietary Na in a nationally representative sample of Australian children aged 2–16 years and to assess the impact of application of the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) Na reduction targets on Na intake. Na intake and use of discretionary salt (note: conversion of salt to Na, 1 g of NaCl (salt) = 390 mg Na) were assessed from 24-h dietary recall in 4487 children participating in the Australian 2007 Children's Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey. Greatest contributors to Na intake across all ages were cereals and cereal-based products/dishes (43 %), including bread (13 %) and breakfast cereals (4 %). Other moderate sources were meat, poultry products (16 %), including processed meats (8 %) and sausages (3 %); milk products/dishes (11 %) and savoury sauces and condiments (7 %). Between 37 and 42 % reported that the person who prepares their meal adds salt when cooking and between 11 and 39 % added salt at the table. Those over the age of 9 years were more likely to report adding salt at the table (χ2 199·5, df 6, P < 0·001). Attainment of the UK FSA Na reduction targets, within the present food supply, would result in a 20 % reduction in daily Na intake in children aged 2–16 years. Incremental reductions of this magnitude over a period of years could significantly reduce the Na intake of this group and further reductions could be achieved by reducing discretionary salt use.
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