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Open Access Research

An examination of the mediating role of salt knowledge and beliefs on the relationship between socio-demographic factors and discretionary salt use: a cross-sectional study

Rani Sarmugam*, Anthony Worsley and Wei Wang

Author Affiliations

School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Deakin University, 221 Burwood Highway, Burwood, VIC, 3125, Australia

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International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2013, 10:25  doi:10.1186/1479-5868-10-25

Published: 19 February 2013

Abstract

Background

Discretionary salt use varies according to socio-demographic factors. However, it is unknown whether salt knowledge and beliefs mediate this relationship. This study examined the direct and indirect effect of socio-demographic factors on salt knowledge and discretionary salt use in a sample of 530 Australian adults.

Methods

An internet based cross-sectional survey was used to collect data for this study. Participants completed an online questionnaire which assessed their salt knowledge, beliefs and salt use behaviour. Mplus was used to conduct structural equation modelling to estimate direct and indirect effects.

Results

The mean age of the participants was 49.2 years, and about a third had tertiary education. Discretionary salt use was inversely related to age (r=-0.11; p<0.05), and declarative salt knowledge (knowledge of factual information) scores (r = -0.17; p<0.01), but was positively correlated with misconceptions about salt (r = 0.09; p<0.05) and beliefs about the taste of salt (r = 0.51; p<0.001). Structural equation modelling showed age, education and gender were indirectly associated with the use of discretionary salt through three mediating pathways; declarative salt knowledge, misconceptions about salt and salt taste beliefs.

Conclusions

Inequalities observed between socio-demographic groups in their use of discretionary salt use can potentially be reduced through targeted salt knowledge and awareness campaigns.

Keywords:
Knowledge; Beliefs; Socio-demographic; Salt; Sodium; Mediation