A new study shows the vast majority of parents are unaware of the salt levels present in their children’s breakfast cereals, with health experts worried they could be easily exceeding recommended salt intake levels on a daily basis
In a study released today, 85% of parents didn’t factor in salt content when choosing breakfast cereals for their children. Many might ask why they would, when hot debate in this category has been focused on sugar (leaving salt levels largely unnoticed). But with cereal manufacturers under increasing pressure to reduce sugar levels in their products, the two issues aren’t mutually exclusive: salt enhances sweetness.
With two thirds of children eating cereal every day for breakfast, and salt levels still worryingly high in popular cereal choices and other mainstream foods (an innocent homemade ham sandwich* provides over 50% of this age group’s 3 gram daily allowance of salt), experts are concerned that parents could be struggling to bring their children’s diets in at the recommended levels.
The YouGov research, commissioned by healthy food brand BEAR on their launch of the first salt and refined sugar free cereal for children, saw 41% of parents whose youngest child was between 4-6 years old, guessing a maximum daily salt allowance for this child to be higher than the recommended maximum amount. 12% guessed this to be 3-6 times higher.
The need for a salt free start to the day is crucial to reduce future risk of strokes and heart attacks but the more pressing concern during childhood is that a high salt intake leads to loss of calcium, therefore thinning bones and putting children at serious risk of developing diseases like osteoporosis.
Katherine Jenner, Campaign Director of CASH (Consensus Action on Salt & Health) says that research has shown that we only develop a liking for salt through eating salt in food which is why it is important not to give children salty tasting foods.
A reduction of salt intakes across the UK population by just 1 gram a day is estimated to prevent 6,000 strokes and heart attacks a year as well as have other health benefits for the population. Salt is not needed in cereal.
Here to tell us more about the research and how parents can avoid giving their children too much harmful salt are Nutritionist Amanda Ursell and founder of healthy food brand BEAR, Hayley Gait-Golding.