If you’re concerned about your child’s weight, you may want to scrutinize salt intake—not just sugar. New research published in the journal Hypertension suggests that dietary salt is directly related to how many high-calorie, sugary beverages kids consume. Earlier studies have linked soda-drinking habits with a significant increase in obesity risk.

The researchers found that if the average amount of salt in children’s diets was reduced by halffrom 6 grams per day to 3 grams per daychildren would likely drink about 2.3 fewer sugar-based drinks each week. “Children who consumed less salt also drank fewer sugar-sweetened drinks,” says author Feng J. He, PhD , a cardiovascular research fellow at St. George’s University, London. “To reduce children’s salt intake, parents should check labels carefully and choose low-sodium food products,” says He.

“Additionally, parents should not add salt during cooking or at the table.”