Drinking water contributes to high salt consumption in young adults in coastal Bangladesh

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

Increasing salinity of freshwater from environmental and anthropogenic influences is threatening the health of 35 million inhabitants in coastal Bangladesh. Yet little is known about the characteristics of their exposure to salt (sodium), a major risk factor for hypertension and related chronic diseases. This research examined sodium consumption levels and associated factors in young adults. We assessed spot urine samples for 282 participants (19–25 years) during May–June 2014 in a rural sub-district in southwestern coastal Bangladesh and measured sodium levels of their potable water sources. The significant factors associated with high sodium consumption were determined from logistic regression analyses. Mean sodium content in tube-well water (885 mg/L) was significantly higher than pond water (738 mg/L) (P = 0.01). Fifty three percent of subjects were consuming sodium at levels above the WHO recommended level (≥2 g/day). The users of tube-well water were more likely to consume sodium above this recommended level than pond water users. Salinity problems are projected to increase with climate change, and with large populations potentially at risk, appropriate public health and behavior-change interventions are an urgent priority for this vulnerable coastal region along with targeted research to better understand sodium exposure pathways and health benefits of alternative water supplies.

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