Two Australian KFC children’s meals have been found to contain double the salt of the same product in the UK.
The finding is part of a survey revealing huge differences in the level of salt used in 37 countries for the same children’s meals at fast food chains like McDonald’s, KFC and Burger King.
World Action on Salt and Health (WASH) found KFC’s popcorn nuggets and fries contained 5.3 grams of salt in Costa Rica, compared with 0.9 in the UK.
If a child in Costa Rica were to eat the meal just twice a month for a year, they would be eating a whopping 18 teaspoons of salt more than a child eating the same meal in the UK.
The survey of 387 popular kids meal combinations found eight out of 10 contained more than 1g of salt, the maximum recommendation for a meal for a child aged four to six.
WASH said too much salt during childhood gets kids used to the taste and puts up blood pressure, leading to stroke and heart failure.
The group 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.
Dr Jacqui Webster from the George Institute for Global Health, an Australian division of WASH, said the research was a big wake-up call.
“It shows that the vast majority of children’s meals sold by fast food companies contain more than the recommended maximum amount of salt for a young child’s meal,” she said.
“The different salt levels for the same meal in different countries is also a cause for concern. ”
For example, KFC’s Popcorn Nuggets and Fries in Australia contain 1.86 grams of salt per serve, which is much more than a child should eat in one meal, and more than twice the amount of salt in the same meal in the UK.
“On a more positive note it is good to see that the children’s turkey sub sold by Subway contains the same level of salt as the lowest in the world, although almost a gram of salt is still too high.”