Eating habits linked to childhood salt intake

A child's salt intake can affect their eating habits in adulthood, it has been suggested. Charlotte Stirling-Reed, a Nutrition Consultant at, noted young people who establish a preference for salty foods in early life could carry through these unhealthy practices as they get older.

The expert was speaking in response to new findings from the University of Bristol, which showed 70 per cent of eight-month old babies are consuming greater levels of salt than is recommended as the UK maximum.

Ms Stirling-Reed explained the substance in baby food is adding to the salt already found in pregnancy.

"Therefore I definitely think it is becoming quite a widespread problem and as a nutritionist I see problems every day with babies having too high a salt intake," she added.

The specialist pointed out toddlers are likely to develop a taste for the foodstuffs their mother or father chooses to feed them, observing the little ones may therefore continue with these preferences as they progress to parenthood.

Dr Gillian Greville-Harris a member of the British Psychological Society commented: "An infant's taste preferences are modified in the first year of life according to the level of the tastant in the foods given to them. 

"If they are given high sugar drinks they prefer sweet drinks, if they are given higher levels of salt in their food then they prefer food with a saltier taste. 

"Of course infants who experience high levels of salt in their weaning food are likely to come from families who use a lot of salt in food preparation, or who buy a lot of processed food. Therefore the salt taste preference is perpetuated.

"It is also a problem that quite high salt levels can be found in foods that many parents don't assume to be salty because they are so used to the taste and these foods, such as bread and cheese, would be those foods that parents would be advised to give to infants.

"All taste preferences can however be moderated. If the salt in the food that we eat is reduced then we gradually become used to the new salt level taste and any higher salt levels would taste unpleasant."