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Children's fast food "shocking" salt levels

A trip to a fast food chain could expose children to "shockingly high" levels of salt, new research shows.

Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) surveyed four of the UK's favourite fast food chains and found children's and family meals contained very high levels of salt.

A family sharing a meal at Pizza Hut could eat 12.3g of salt each, that's twice the recommended limit for adults and four times that of a 6 year-old.

The report found Boneless Boxes from KFC shared between four contained over the maximum daily limit of salt for a child and almost a whole adult's salt allowance at 5.2g of salt each.

Salt contents of meal combinations varied from 4.3g of salt in a Pizza Hut children's meal to 0.6g in a McDonald's Happy Meal of chicken nuggets.

Carrie Bolt, CASH researcher, who surveyed the various meals said: "Whilst we acknowledge that there are low salt options available at some fast food outlets, the likelihood is that more children going to McDonald's o Burger King will ask for a burger or chicken nuggets and fries. If they are taken to KFC they will want chicken and fires and at Pizza Hut they will choose pizza."

Carrie and team are concerned that fast food chains do not provide information inside restaurants about salt levels.

"There is no way for people to make informed choices before they buy," she says.

"We would like to see all fast food outlets displaying nutritional information were people make food choices."

CASH nutritionist Jo Butten said: "If you are taking your children out for a 'treat' this half term I would say it is better to go to McDonald's or Burger King rather than Pizza Hut which serves food outrageously high in unnecessary salt."


Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)

"Yes, I think they should. I was at a recent cardiovascular symposium where professor Gareth Beevers was one of the speakers. He put high salt intake as one of the greatest risk factors for stroke. It certainly made me think about my own intake" - Name and address supplied

"The human body has two excellent and efficient salt regulators: the tongue and the kidneys. The only people affected negatively by salt are those with undiagnosed high blood pressure or kidney damage, which affects a significant proportion of the population, hence the generalised low-salt advice. But this generalised advice is netting healthy people for whom there is no need to restrict salt intake. CASH is blackmailing us through our children with scare stories. If the reader actually takes the time to read studies on salt and its effects you will see that there is no consensus among the researchers. There are also significant effects to having too little salt, affecting the nervous system particularly. This advice should not be directed at healthy persons, particularly not children - Greg Lorriman, UK