Sodium is an essential nutrient for the human body. It is widely used as sodium chloride (table salt) in (processed) foods and overconsumed by both children and adults, placing them at risk for adverse health effects such as high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases. The current review focusses on the development of salt taste sensitivity and preferences, and its association with food intake. Three -to- four month old infants are able to detect and prefer sodium chloride solutions over plain water, which is thought to be a biological unlearned response. Liking for water with sodium chloride mostly decreases when infants enter early childhood, but liking for sodium chloride in appropriate food contexts such as soup and snack foods remains high. The increased acceptance and preference of sodium chloride rich foods coincides with infants’ exposure to salty foods, and is therefore thought to be mostly a learned response. Children prefer higher salt concentrations than adults, but seem to be equally sensitive to salt taste. The addition of salt to foods increases children’s consumption of those foods. However, children’s liking for salt taste as such does not seem to correlate with children’s consumption of salty foods. Decreasing the exposure to salty tasting foods during early infancy is recommended. Salt plays an important role in children’s liking for a variety of foods. It is, however, questionable if children’s liking for salt per se influences the intake of salty foods.
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