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Clinical Summary

Adding Salt to Food Tied to a Higher Risk of Sleep Apnoea


  • The habit of adding salt to food was associated with an increased risk of incident sleep apnoea.

Why This Matters

  • Findings support the benefits of a salt reduction programme in preventing sleep apnoea.

Study Design

  • Findings are from a large prospective cohort study that included 488,196 participants (age 40-69 years) using data from the UK Biobank (2006-2010).
  • The frequency of adding salt to foods was evaluated using a touch screen questionnaire.
  • Funding: None disclosed.

Key Results

  • Overall, 271,311 (55.6%) participants never or rarely added salt to food, 136,763 (28.0%) sometimes added salt to food, 56,544 (11.6%) usually added salt to food, and 23,578 (4.8%) always added salt to food.
  • During a median follow-up of 12.3 years, 6394 sleep apnoea events were reported.
  • Compared with participants who never/rarely added salt to food, those who sometimes (adjusted HR [aHR] 1.11; 95% CI 1.04 to 1.17), usually (aHR 1.15; 95% CI 1.07 to 1.24), and always (aHR 1.24; 95% CI 1.12 to 1.37; Ptrend<0.001) added salt to food had a significantly higher risk of incident sleep apnoea.


  • Observational design.
  • The frequency of adding salt was partly related to the salt intake of individuals.