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Global salt-reduction efforts are inconsistent

April 28th, 2012

A new study found that sodium levels of menu items from the same fast-food chain can vary depending on its location. This led the researchers to conclude that salt functionality might not be hampering salt-reduction efforts, as industry sometimes claims.

For the study, researchers from Australia, France, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States collaborated to collect data on the salt content of products served by six fast-food chains: Burger King, Domino’s Pizza, Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and Subway.

The data was then calculated and compared within and between countries and companies, and the results were published in the Canadian Medicine Association Journal. The data showed not only variation in mean salt content between different categories of products (salads versus chicken, for example), but significant variability between countries. McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets, for instance, contain 0.6 grams of salt per 100 grams in the United Kingdom, but 1.6 grams of salt per 100 grams in the United States. Overall, products sold in the United States and Canada had higher sodium levels than the same products in the United Kingdom and France.

That said, the authors conclude: “Decreasing salt in fast foods would appear to be technically feasible and is likely to produce important gains in population health — the mean salt levels of fast foods are high, and these foods are eaten often.”

Source: University of Calgary

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