You may not think your child eats much salt, but new research suggests the salt in breads and cereals could be pushing children’s daily salt intake over recommended levels.
Of the 340 children in the study published in Hypertension, 70% ate more than the recommended teaspoon (3g) of salt a day.
One-third of the salt came from breads and cereals with meat accounting for a fifth and dairy one-tenth.
Surprisingly, two slices of wholemeal bread contains 1g of salt.
According to the BBC, the study’s authors say more should be done to cut salt levels in food because salt increases the risk of high blood pressure from a young age, which can lead to heart disease and stroke.
The study found on average, 5 and 6-year-old children consumed 3.75g of salt a day – more than the recommended 3g maximum.
8 and 9-year olds consumed 4.72g a day – within their 5g limit.
13 to 17-year-olds consumed 7.55g a day – more than the 6g limit.
Much of the salt consumed was from processed foods rather than added at the table.
Lead researcher Prof Graham MacGregor said: “It is very difficult for parents to reduce children’s salt intake unless they avoid packaged and restaurant foods and prepare each meal from scratch using fresh, natural ingredients.”
A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “On average, we are eating approximately 2g of salt more each day than the recommended amount and it is vital that we address this. This is why we are working with industry through the Responsibility Deal to reduce the amount of salt in foods. We have just finalised new salt targets for 76 categories of food and call on industry to sign up.”