Dangerously high salt levels in kids meals
A new study has revealed that kids’ meals at some UK pubs and fast food restaurants contain more than a child’s daily intake level of salt.
by Louise-Anne Geddes, Mindful Mum, 14th June 2012
The research by CASH (Consensus action on salt and health) found that several outlets were serving meals containing more than the recommended 4g per day level of salt. Nando’s and Wetherspoons each offered a children’s meal containing three times as much salt as a McDonald’s Happy Meal. Katharine Jenner, Campaign Director of CASH, says that ‘children’s meals should provide tasty and healthy alternatives to more adult dishes. It is an outrage that when families go out for a pub lunch, they may be unknowingly putting their children’s health at risk’.
No nutritional information
CASH found the highest levels of salt in the following meals:
- Nando’s – Nandino’s Veggie Burger with Creamy Mash – 5.3g salt
- Wetherspoons – Wiltshire Cured Ham & Cheese Sandwich (served with chips) – 4.8g salt
- Harvester – Gammon and Chicken Combo with Mashed Potato and Beans – 4.3g salt
- Sizzling Pub Co. – 4oz Gammon with Mash and Beans – 4.1g salt
- Wetherspoons – Chicken Breast Nuggets with Chips and Baked Beans – 4.0g salt
However, they also claim that a lack of nutritional information on menus makes it almost ‘impossible’ for parents to make healthier choices for their children. Despite offering a meal containing one of the highest salt levels, Wetherspoons also offers Annabel Karmel Spaghetti Bolognese which containing just 0.1g of salt, is one of the lowest salt levels found in the survey.
Serious health risks
Professor Graham McGregor of the Wolfson Institute of Preventative Medicine is the Chairman of CASH. He said that ‘salt addiction salt starts in childhood and can lead to serious health issues in later life including high blood pressure, increased risk of stroke, heart disease, osteoporosis and kidney disease. Parents are doing their best, but with the food industry continuing to put huge levels of salt in our food without any information on the menu, our children remain at risk.’
Advice for parents
Mindful Mum nutritionist Charlotte Stirling-Reed says:
“Many companies are making progress towards reducing the salt in children’s foods. However, without official laws and backing from the government this is very hard to enforce throughout all of the food industry. The result is unfortunately confusion, with parents really not knowing where to turn and what is the healthiest option to choose for their child!
“Of course, eating out every now and then is not going to be a problem, but more families are now choosing to eat away from home than ever before. This means that some children are subject to these high salt levels on a regular basis and that is when we start to see real problems! Preferences to salty foods are developed in childhood and can therefore result in a lifetime of high salt intakes which clearly have negative health effects as clearly explained by ‘CASH’.
“My advice? Until the government puts in regulations and changes are made throughout the food industry, we are better off eating home cooked meals freshly prepared from scratch as much as possible and leave that salt pot at the back of the cupboard!”
Source: CASH, Dangerously high levels of salt in kids meals, 14th June 2012
Photography: The Giant Vermin@ Flickr