NYMC Faculty Publications


Relationship Between Dietary Sodium and Sugar Intake: A Cross-Sectional Study of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2001-2016

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Dietary sodium intake and cardiovascular outcomes have a reported J-shaped curve relationship. This study analyzes the relationship between dietary sodium and sugar intake as a potential mechanism to explain this association. The authors examined cross-sectional data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001-2016 where dietary sodium, carbohydrate, fat, cholesterol, and sugar intakes were assessed by 24-hour dietary recall and were standardized to a total daily intake of 2000 calories. Sodium intake was categorized into sodium quintiles (SQ) as follows: SQ1(0.06-2.6 g/d); SQ2(2.6-3.0 g/d); SQ3(3.0-3.4 g/d); SQ4(3.4-4.0 g/d); and SQ5(4.0-29.3 g/d). Simple and multivariate linear regression using SQ3 as reference were used to assess associations between daily sodium intake and the other nutrients. Our results showed that among 38 722 participants that met our study criteria, the mean age was 43.6 years (SD 16.8 years) and sex was equally distributed (48.8% male vs 51.2% female). Sugar intake went down across increasing SQs and was significantly higher in SQ1 (141.2 g/d) and SQ2 (118.6 g/d) and significantly lower in SQ4 (97.9 g/d) and SQ5 (85.6 g/d) compared to SQ3 (108.6 g/d; all P < .01). These same trends remained unchanged and significant in the fully adjusted multivariate model. In conclusion, NHANES study participants reporting low sodium intake on 24-hour dietary recall have a higher consumption of sugar. The negative impact of low sodium diet on cardiovascular health may be explained at least partially by the associated high sugar intake.