Huge amounts of salt in children's meals

The amount of salt in children’s meals at many restaurants is increasing the risk of illness in later life.

Action on Salt published their findings recently, which showed that meals eaten outside the home are higher in fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt compared to home cooked meals. The portion size of the meal is often much bigger as well.

 

The government recommendations on the maximum daily intake of salt are as follows:

0 - 6 months < 1g / day

6 - 12 months 1 g / day

1 - 3 years 2 g / day

4 - 6 years 3 g / day

7 - 10 years 5 g / day

11 + years 6g / day

 

Over 300 meals at 15 popular restaurant chains were examined for salt content. According to the report the key findings were:

  • One in three (35%) children’s meals served in restaurants contain 2g or more of salt  

  • Two in five (41%) children’s meals are high in salt and 43% exceed the maximum salt target set by the Department of Health  

  • There is a big variation in salt content by similar meal types of up to 6 times more salt 

  • A similar proportion of children’s meals were high in salt (41%) in 2019 and 2022, demonstrating a lack of progress in the restaurant sector. 

(Source: Action on Salt: The Salt Content of Children’s Meals in the Restaurant Sector)

 

Sheena Bhageerutty, Assistant Nutritionist at Action on Salt says, 

“Whilst eating less salt early on in life is a healthier habit which should be embedded into adulthood, most of our salt intake is out of our control as it is already in the food we buy and order when dining out. Restaurants therefore have the very simple option to cook with less salt and help give our children the best start in life.”

 

With many restaurants offering cheaper meals for kids it can make it a tempting choice to eat out while dealing with the rising cost of living. However, it’s important to be aware of what these meals contain and help our children make healthier choices to benefit their long term health.

You can read more about this research here.

 

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Huge amounts of salt in children's meals