Public Health Nutrition

HOT TOPIC – Salt intake

Salt intake in young Swedish men

L Hulthéna1 c1, M Aurella2, S Klingberga1, E Hallenberga1, M Lorentzona3 and C Ohlssona3

a1 Department Clinical Nutrition, Sahlgrenska Academy at University of Gothenburg, Box 459, S-405 30 Gothenburg, Sweden

a2 Nephrology Department, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Gothenburg, Sweden

a3 Center for Bone Research at Sahlgrenska Academy (CBS), Institute of Medicine, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden


Objective To measure dietary salt intake in a Swedish population.

Design A cross-sectional study with measured 24 h urinary excretion of Na and K. Completeness of urine collection was assessed using p-aminobenzoic acid. The subjects were interviewed on their habitual food intake.

Setting Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Gothenburg, Sweden.

Subjects Eighty-six young men (age 18–20 years), randomly selected from the population of Gothenburg. Seven men were excluded due to incomplete urine collection.

Results The mean excretion of Na and K over 24 h was 198 and 84 mmol, respectively (corresponding to 11·5 g NaCl and 3·3 g K). The mean 24 h excretion in the highest quartile of Na excretion was 297 mmol Na and 105 mmol K, and in the lowest quartile, 100 mmol Na and 68 mmol K. The mean Na:K ratio was 2·3, and respectively 3·2 and 1·8 in the highest and lowest Na excretion quartiles. Calculated energy intake did not differ between the highest and lowest quartiles of Na excretion, but body weight, BMI and the intake of certain foods known to be Na-rich did.

Conclusions Salt intake in young men was alarming high and even subjects in the lowest quartile of Na excretion did not meet present recommendations to limit salt intake to 5–6 g/d. At this point we can only speculate what the consequences of the high salt intake may be for CVD and stroke later in life. Regulation of the salt content in processed and fast food and in snacks is advocated, to curtail the salt burden on society imposed by the food industry.

(Received December 10 2008)

(Accepted July 29 2009)

(Online publication December 08 2009)


c1 Corresponding author: Email