Usefulness and Pitfalls in Sodium Intake Estimation: Comparison of Dietary Assessment and Urinary Excretion in Chilean Children and Adults

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High sodium intake has been associated with various noncommunicable disease like hypertension, cardiovascular disease, or stroke. To estimate accurately sodium intake is challenging in clinical practice. We investigate the usefulness and limitations of assessing sodium intake simultaneously by dietary assessment and urinary samples in both children and adults.


We used a cross-sectional study design inviting 298 Chilean subjects (74 children and 222 adults) aged between 9 and 66 years of both genders. Sodium intake by dietary assessment was obtained from Chilean food composition data, based on FAO tables. Sodium and creatinine excretion were measured in 24-hour urine samples, in all participants.


Adequate urinary collection was obtained in 81% of children (59/74) and 61% of adults (135/222). The mean sodium intake by dietary assessment was similar to the sodium excretion in 24 hours (3,121±1,153mg/d vs. 3,114±1,353mg/24h, P = nonsignificant) in children but was significantly lower (3,208±1,284mg/d vs. 4,160±1,651mg/24h, P < 0.001) in adults. In both children and adults, sodium intake correlated with urinary sodium excretion (r = 0.456, P < 0.003 and r = 0.390, P < 0.001, respectively). Secondary analyses also suggested that the dietary assessment was more inaccurate in overweight adult subjects.


Our results showed that average sodium intake was higher than recommended in both children and adults (WHO ≤2,000mg/d). The sodium intake estimated by dietary assessment correlated with urinary excretion in all subjects, but in obese adults was more inaccurate than in children. Future studies to validate the appropriate test to assess sodium intake by age and nutritional status are warranted.

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