Australian fast foods are becoming less salty but eating one burger can still tip you over the edge of an entire day’s sodium intake.
A four-year study published in the Medical Journal of Australia looked at Pizza Hut, Hungry Jack’s, KFC, McDonald’s, Subway and Domino.
The researchers found the food to have become lower in salt by 2% to 3% per year.
“Despite the small reduction, salt levels in Australian fast food remain high,” says Elizabeth Dunford, from the George Institute for Global Health and the University of Sydney.
“These small reductions in salt levels could be easily undone by the trend towards larger portion sizes.”
Dr Dunford says government leadership is needed to get significant improvements.
Australia should adopt a strategy similar to the UK’s salt reduction program, where strong government engagement resulted in lower salt levels than other countries, she says.
The average Australian consumes 9 grams of salt a day. The Australian Government recommends no more than 1,600 mg of sodium a day, the amount found in about a teaspoon of salt.
The study used figures provided on the websites of Pizza Hut, Hungry Jack’s, KFC, McDonald’s, Subway and Domino’s.
Overall sodium content across all items offered by major chains fell by 43mg/100g. Most product categories had lower mean sodium levels per 100g and per serve in 2012 compared to 2009.
Salt levels in side dishes, however, rose over the four years.
“But Australians can still consume their entire daily salt intake in one burger alone,” Dr Dunford says.
“This scenario is not rare – there were a number of burgers, pizzas, breakfasts, chicken sides and sandwiches that provided more than 1,60 0mg of sodium per serve.”
These tables show the low and high salt versions of fast food in Australia, according to the George Institute for Global Health:
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