Date of Award


Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Masters of Science (Research)


Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Dr Janette Walton

Second Advisor

Dr Brendan O'Connell

Third Advisor

Prof. Albert Flynn


A high sodium to potassium intake ratio (Na:K) resulting from a diet high in sodium and low in potassium can increase the risk of elevated blood pressure or hypertension in children, potentially leading to increased CVD in adulthood. The objective of this thesis was to estimate sodium and potassium intakes and Na:K in school-aged children (5-12y) in Ireland using data from the nationally representative National Children’s Food Survey II (NCFS II) (2017-18). The thesis study collected detailed dietary intake data for 600 children using 4-d food records and also collected spot urine samples from 95% of these participants. Sodium and potassium intakes and Na:K were estimated from the spot urines based on urinary excretion of sodium and potassium measured with a Randox RX Daytona. Dietary intakes and key sources of sodium and potassium were also estimated and compared with previous data collected in the NCFS (2003-04). Foods which determined a lower Na:K were identified. The key findings of this study were that the mean sodium intake of Irish children generally exceeded recommendations, while mean potassium intakes below recommendations were found for older children aged 11- 12 years. The key sources of sodium were processed meats and breads, while the key sources of potassium were meats, milks, potatoes and fruit & fruit juices. Children with a lower Na:K had higher intakes of breakfast cereals, milk & yogurt, potatoes, vegetables & vegetable dishes, fruit & fruit juices and fresh meat and lower intakes of savoury foods, breads, cheese, processed meats and soft drinks. Compliance with the WHO optimal target urinary Na:K ≤1.0mmol/mmol was very low at 19%. Strategies to lower Na:K amongst Irish children may reduce the proportion of children at risk of developing hypertension and indirectly reduce the prevalence of hypertension related diseases amongst Irish adults.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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