Public Health Nutrition


Food sources and correlates of sodium and potassium intakes in Flemish pre-school children

Inge Huybrechtsa1 c1, Willem De Keyzera1a2, Yi Lina1, Stefanie Vandevijverea3, Carine Vereeckena1, Herman Van Oyena3, Katrien Tillemana4, Mia Bellemansa1, Mieke De Maeyera1, Guy De Backera1 and Stefaan De Henauwa1a2

a1 Department of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Ghent University, UZ – 2 Blok A, De Pintelaan 185, B-9000 Ghent, Belgium

a2 Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, University College Ghent, Ghent, Belgium

a3 Unit of Epidemiology, Scientific Institute of Public Health, Brussels, Belgium

a4 Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium


Objective The aim of the present study was to investigate dietary sources of Na and K intakes among Flemish pre-school children using multiple linear regression analyses.

Design Three-day estimated diet records were used to assess dietary intakes. The contribution to Na and K intakes of fifty-seven food groups was computed by summing the amount provided by the food group for all individuals divided by the total intake for all individuals.

Setting A random cluster sampling design at the level of schools, stratified by province and age, was used.

Subjects A representative sample of 696 Flemish pre-school children aged 2·5–6·5 years was recruited.

Results Mean Na intake was above and mean K intake was largely below the recommendation for children. Bread (22 %) and soup (13 %) were main contributors to Na intake followed by cold meat cuts and other meat products (12 % and 11 %, respectively). Sugared milk drinks, fried potatoes, milk and fruit juices were the main K sources (13 %, 12 %, 11 % and 11 %, respectively). Although Na and K intakes were positively correlated, several food categories showed Na:K intake ratio well above one (water, cheeses, soup, butter/margarine, fast foods and light beverages) whereas others presented a ratio well below one (oil & fat, fruits & juices, potatoes, vegetables and hot beverages).

Conclusions Flemish pre-school children had too high Na and too low K intakes. The finding that main dietary sources of Na and K are clearly different indicates the feasibility of simultaneously decreasing Na and increasing K intake among children.

(Received December 04 2010)

(Accepted September 08 2011)

(Online publication October 06 2011)


c1 Corresponding author: Email