Teens eating too much salt, thanks to fast food

October 13th, 2008 - 2:48 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Oct 13 (IANS) Teenage boys are eating more than twice the recommended quantity of salt daily, even more than girls of similar age, according to a new report. The Australian National Children’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey (AWASH) 2007 report shows how easy it is for teens to consume too much of salt, with most take-away like pizzas, burgers and sausages containing more than half the suggested dietary target for adults.

AWASH said the food industry should cut down salt levels in foods and that government should fund an awareness campaign to encourage children to eat more fresh fruit and vegetables and less processed foods.

High intake of salt is one of the main causes of high blood pressure, which is the biggest single cause of premature death and disability in the world. “It is well established that the problems caused by salt start in childhood,” said Caryl Nowson, representing AWASH.

“What wasn’t appreciated until now, is just how much salt Australian children are eating,” She continued. “Without immediate action we are condemning the next generation to serious health problems that could be easily averted. The government must take leadership on this. The status quo is simply not an option.”

The government has highlighted a number of preventive strategies targeting children’s’ health, most notably obesity prevention. These latest data suggest that salt reduction should feature much more prominently, according to an AWASH press release.

Jacqui Webster, AWASH project manager, said “it’s hardly surprising that teenage boys are eating so much salt because salt levels in the types of foods they like to eat are so high.

“Bread, processed meat products and takeaway foods are the main culprits. One sausage sandwich can contain over the recommended daily maximum amount. Many pizzas contain more than twice the suggested daily target,” he added.

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