An international study has highlighted the dangerous levels of salt in Aussie children’s meals, especially when it comes to fast food.
Experts have warned Australian’s are at risk of high blood pressure and heart disease due to their high salt consumption, and our children aren’t immune.
Australian appetites are among the world’s saltiest, with many of the foods we eat jam packed with hidden salt content.
Snacking on salt packed foods increases kids’ dependency on the salty taste, making them crave unhealthy foods like nuggets, fries and hamburgers.
Health experts have pointed the finger at fast food companies for being on the main culprits for Australia’s salt reliance.
Dr Jacqui Webster from the George Institute for Global Health said salt was one of the main contributors for premature death from heart attacks and strokes.
“Compared to the rest of the world Australia isn’t doing too well,” Dr Webster said.
The George Institute and the World Health Organisation said it was time for a wake-up call in Australia.
They called on the food industry and government to work to get salt levels down – in line with international best practice.
They felt if the rest of the world could do it, so could Australia.
A recent study by the World Action on Salt and Health showed of 163 kids’ meals from fast food chains across the world, 82 percent or 134, contained levels of salt much higher than the maximum recommendation (1 gram per serve).
The biggest offenders in Australia were KFC’s popcorn chicken and fries with 1.86 grams of salt – almost twice the maximum and more than twice the salt as the same meal in the UK.
A KFC spokeswoman told Seven News KFC Australia was committed to reducing the amount of salt in their food.
“We know we still have some work to do however we have already made significant improvements. In recent years we have achieved an average 15 percent reduction in sodium across core chicken menu items, a 21 per cent reduction in seasoned chip salt, and a 30 per cent reduction in our burger buns. Other menu items where we are also seeking to reduce salt include our tortillas and bacon. We will continue to work with our suppliers to reduce salt content in our ingredients.
"To help our customers understand what is in their food, including salt content, we have a comprehensive and industry leading nutrition calculator on our website (kfc.com.au), which we encourage people to use.”
McDonald’s Happy Meal hamburger had 1.81 grams, Hungry Jacks hamburger and fries had 1.71 and Subway’s turkey sub was lower at 0.82 grams.
“Subway has reduced the salt content in their subs by 38 percent, which is over a third,” Subway dietitian Kate Di Prima told Seven News.
"This work extends to our Mini Subs, a child-specific portion size which we are proud to offer as a good option for parents on the go".