A research abstract presented at the American Heart Association’s (AHA’s) Epidemiology and Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism Scientific Sessions 2014 has claimed that “overweight or obese teenagers  who eat lots of salty foods may show signs of fast cell aging.” According to a March 20, 2014, AHA press release, researchers with the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents university analyzed the telomere-to-single-copy- gene ratios of 766 participants ages 14-18 who were divided into two groups representing low-sodium intake (an average of 2,388 mg/day) and high sodium intake (an average of 4,142 mg/day). The abstract’s authors noted that overweight and obese teens in the high-intake group had telomeres “that were significantly shorter” than the telomeres of normal weight teens in the same intake group.

“Even in these relatively healthy young people, we can already see the effect of high sodium intake, suggesting that high sodium intake and obesity may act synergistically to accelerate cellular aging,” one study author was quoted as saying. “Lowering sodium intake, especially if you are overweight or obese, may slow down the cellular aging process that plays an important role in the development of heart disease.”