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Survey reveals fast food salt lottery

Charity warns children consume 'worryingly' high levels of salt in fast food

Mark Gould

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Identical meals available from fast food chains across the world have been found to contain widely varying levels of salt, according to a new international children's meal survey.

Over eight out of ten meals (134/163) contained more than 1g of salt per serving. One meal contained as much salt as 10 packets of ready salted crisps (5.34g).

Over a year, a child in Costa Rica could be eating 18 teaspoons (106.56g) more salt than a child eating the same meal in the UK. The highest salt level for KFC was in Costa Rica at 5.34g, and for McDonald’s it was 2.4g in Turkey.

The UK performed better than most countries, with a Burger King child’s meal burger and fries containing 1.06g of salt and a Subway child’s turkey sub sandwich containing 1g, compared with 2.54g in Finland and 1.5g in Germany respectively.

The research, carried out by World Action on Salt and Health (Wash) which is based at the Wolfson Institute Queen Mary University of London, reveals that over half of all meals (53%) contain more than half a days’ worth of salt for a 4-6 year old (1.5g).

Wash is calling for all food manufacturers to universally reduce the salt content of their products, to help achieve the global maximum target of 5g salt per adult per day – with children’s meals taking priority – and saving lives.

Of the 387 children’s foods choices surveyed, only 233 had complete nutritional information to allow comparison of salt contents.

“The fact that these fast food chains are able to produce less salty children’s meals in some countries means they can do the same in all countries, and should immediately. All children, regardless of where they are from, should be able to enjoy the occasional meal out, as a treat, without putting their health at risk,” says Clare Farrand, Public Health Nutritionist and International Programme Lead at Wash.

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