Observational studies have found associations between urinary sodium (UNa) with obesity, body shape and composition; but the findings may be biased by residual confounding. The objective of this two-sample Mendelian randomization (MR) study was to analyze their causal associations in both sex-combined and sex-specific models. Genome-wide association studies of UNa, body mass index (BMI), BMI-adjusted waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), body fat (BF) percentage and estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) were identified. We initially extracted fifty SNPs associated with UNa at significance level of 5 × 10–8, but further removed those SNPs with potential horizontal pleiotropy. Univariable and multivariable MR with adjustment for eGFR were performed. Inverse-variance weighted MR was performed as the primary analysis, with MR-Egger methods as sensitivity analysis. The potential bidirectional association between BMI and UNa was investigated. All exposure and outcomes were continuous, and the effect measure was regression coefficients (beta) and their 95% confidence intervals (95% CI). The total sample size was up to 322 154. UNa was causally associated with increased BMI in both men [eGFR-adjusted beta 0.443 (0.163–0.724)] and women [0.594 (0.333–0.855)]. UNa caused BF percentage increase in men [0.622 (0.268–0.976)] and women [0.334 (0.007–0.662)]. UNa significantly elevated BMI-adjusted WHR in men [0.321 (0.094–0.548)], but not in women [0.170 (− 0.052 to 0.391)]. Additionally, we found that BMI causally increased UNa [0.043 (0.023–0.063)]. UNa increased BMI and BF percentage. Salt intake affects male body shape by increasing BMI-adjusted WHR, but showed no effects on female body shape. The bidirectional association between BMI and UNa suggested that salt reduction measures and weight reduction measures should be implemented simultaneously to break the vicious cycle and gain more health benefits.
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