It should come as no surprise that fast food typically has more salt than is good for you — in fact, this is true of pretty much all meals you’ll ever eat outside your home — but have you ever thought about what that means for children’s meals? Do fast food companies offer healthier sodium levels for their youngest customers, for whom diet is so important to their growth? Not really.
According to recently analysis conducted by the World Action on Salt and Health, 8 out of 10 meals contain more than one gram of salt per serving, the maximum recommendation per meal, for children between the ages of four and six.
The salt content for a fast food chain’s children’s meal also varied widely across countries — in Costa Rica, KFC’s popcorn nuggets and fries clocked in at 5.34 grams per serving, while the UK’s KFC offered a more reasonable .9 grams per serving. In Turkey, a McDonald’s meal of nuggets and fries came with 2.4 grams of salt per serving, while the UK again offered the most modest sodium level, .78 grams per serving.
The findings would seem to suggest that across the board, all fast food chain locations should be made to comply with healthful salt levels, rather than allow for so much international variation. WASH also noted that, “of the 387 children’s foods choices WASH surveyed, only 233 had complete nutritional information to allow comparison of salt contents.
“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,” announced Clare Farrand, public health nutritionist and international program lead at WASH. “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.”