Less salt for the kids in Salt Awareness Week

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Thursday, March 19th, 2015
Many children and adults consume more salt than is recommended for good health. This year as part of Salt Awareness Week (16-22 March), the Public Health Agency (PHA) is drawing attention to the salt that is added to common foods by manufacturers and asking people to think about the amount of salt in children’s diets. Jennifer McBratney, Senior Health and Wellbeing Improvement Officer at the PHA, said, “A small amount of salt is an essential part of our diet, however, eating too much can increase blood pressure – also known as hypertension – and increase the risk of stroke, heart failure and heart attack, some of the leading causes of disability and death in Northern Ireland. “We know that manufacturers’ processed foods can be high in salt and this can mean that we eat more salt than we may have intended. For example a 37.5g bag of cheese and onion crisps can contain 0.6g of salt and a bag of salt and vinegar may contain 0.8g. “A tin of cream of chicken soup can contain 1.9g of salt and a tin of cream of tomato soup can contain 1.7g of salt. It is important that children get the healthiest possible start in life, and part of that is making sure that from an early age young people are informed about the levels of salt in their diet. “Parents have an important role in not only taking into account and monitoring the salt in children’s food, but also making children aware of what they are eating so they carry the habit of good nutrition through adolescence and to adulthood,” she insisted. “When cooking for children, do not add salt to their food and try not to add it at the table. When cooking, replace salt with alternative flavourings such as pepper, lemon juice, herbs and spices. “It’s also important to read the nutritional information on food packaging. Over three quarters of our salt comes from processed and convenience food. Many food labels will use a colour-coding system to inform you of high salt content marked in red, medium salt content marked in amber and low salt content marked in green. “Try to eat foods that have a low or medium salt content and only eat high-salt foods occasionally or in small amounts,” Jennifer added.
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