South Africa has Saltiest Kiddies Chicken Burger in the World!
South Africa features among the top 10 countries for saltiest children’s fast food meals out of 37 countries surveyed globally.
A 2015 international survey carried out by World Action on Salt and Health (WASH) and supported by the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa (HSFSA) investigated the salt content of 387 popular kid’s meal combinations. The survey revealed that children are being served worryingly high amounts of salt by popular fast food chains; with 82% (134/163) of meals containing more than 1g of salt per dish. That’s more than a child aged 4-6 years old should be eating in one sitting, with some meals containing as much salt as 10 packets of salted crisps.
In South Africa the saltiest children’s meal turned out to be a KFC kiddie’s burger and chips. This contains 2.91g of salt – almost the entire recommended daily salt intake for children aged 4 – 6 years. We were also found to have the 3rd saltiest McDonald’s chicken nugget meal out of 29 countries (see Table 2). This is worrying as the stats show that 1 in 3 South African adolescents eat fast food three times a week.
The shocking figures are that; around half of all fast food kiddies meals (53%) contain more than half a day’s worth of salt for a 4-6 year old (1.5g). This finding resulted in WASH 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 – and save lives!
The HSFSA emphasized the importance of this call to action:
“With South Africans having one of the highest rates of high blood pressure worldwide and 1 in 10 children already suffering from high blood pressure, we simply cannot afford to allow such high levels of salt in popular children’s meals”, says Christelle Crickmore, Science and Programme Development Manager, HSFSA.
The Saltiest Children’s Meals Globally:
The survey revealed the saltiest children’s meals around the world, highlighting, not only the excessive amounts of salt in these meals, but also the HUGE variation in salt content of the same meals sold in different countries:
1: Difference in highest and lowest salt content of popular children’s meals
“The fact that these fast food chains are able to produce less salty children’s meals in some countries means they can do the same in ALL countries, and should immediately. All children, regardless of where they are from, should be able to enjoy the occasional meal out, as a treat, without putting their health at risk.” says Clare Farrand, Public Health Nutritionist and International Programme Lead at WASH.
“The more salt you eat as a child, the more likely you are to have serious health issues in later life.” Says Professor Graham MacGregor, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at Queen Mary University of London and Chairman of WASH. “This can include high blood pressure, increased risk of stroke, heart disease, osteoporosis and kidney disease. That is why it is vitally important that children do not get used to the taste of salt.”
Finally, of the 387 children’s foods choices WASH surveyed only 233 had complete nutritional information to allow comparison of salt contents.
“Lack of nutrition information makes it impossible for parents who are trying to do their very best to make a healthy choice for their children.” Says Stephanie Tucker, Nutritionist at WASH. “Therefore all fast-food restaurants should provide nutrition information, so that people can know exactly what is in their food.”