Salt Awareness Week: Children getting a third of their salt before school

Today marks the start of Salt Awareness Week (20th – 26th March). Salt raises blood pressure which leads to strokes and heart attacks. This year’s theme is The Hidden Killer as many foods still have salt added to them, even the ones that do not necessarily taste salty! Lowering the amount of salt in our diets can lessen our chances of dying prematurely – so we need to aim for no more than 6g of salt per day (and for children aged 4-6 the NHS recommends no more than 3g of salt per day).Salt Awareness Week: Children getting a third of their salt before school

Hidden Salt in Foods

DW Fitness has found that children could be getting a third of their recommended salt allowance before they even get to school just by eating their breakfast!

For example a serving of 30g of cereal contains:

  • Kelloggs Krave = 12% of your child’s recommended salt intake (6% for adults)
  • Rice Krispies = 12% of your child’s recommended salt intake (6% for adults)
  • Cheerios = 10% of your child’s recommended salt intake (5% for adults)
  • Coco Krispies = 8% of your recommended salt intake (4% for adults)

Manufacturers list salt content per 30g, but that’s a very modest portion size, for a hungry child (and aren’t they all!) It would be very easy to eat two or three times that. So if a child had a large bowl of Rice Krispies (100g) that would be 1.13g of salt, over a third of their daily allowance. If they couple that with a glass of orange parents can do more harm than good as they are full of sugar! Children aged 4-6 years should only be getting 19g of a sugar a day (5 cubes): Tropicana contains 13.4g of sugar per serving and Innocent Orange Juice Smooth contains 12g per serving. That’s 70% and 63% of a child’s sugar allowance.Salt Awareness Week: Children getting a third of their salt before school

Breads and starchy foods, eggs and dairy, meat, fish and vegetarian alternatives, desserts and sweet and savory snacks are also high in salt – so if that child is sent off with a packed lunch with a sandwich with processed meat or cheese, a chocolate biscuit bar, a cake and some salted popcorn – well you can see how this is looking!

What are the alternatives to heavy salt laden foods?

Lower Salt Breakfast Ideas

People tend to have cereal for breakfast as it is seen as a quick and healthy way to eat and this can still be the case just being more selective about the cereal that is chosen. Carly Yue says that, “A lot of people skip breakfast because of time constraints, but this really isn’t an excuse. You can make a healthy breakfast in no time at all – you don’t have to be fancy! Set your alarm 15 minutes earlier and prepare yourself one of these simple, yet highly nutritious meals.”

Porridge made with oats, almond milk and one banana

“Be careful when you buy your porridge, as some brands will cram a lot of sugar in there. Porridge is a good breakfast option as it is renowned for releasing energy slowly, which means kids can get to lunch time without suffering from an energy lull. A great source of fibre, potassium and vitamins, bananas are always a good accompaniment to your morning oats.”
reduced salt breakfast

Two slices of wholemeal toast with two teaspoons of peanut butter

“So fast and easy to make, yet so effective. Peanut butter is a good source of “healthy fats”, as well as protein and Vitamin E among other nutrients, a liberal spreading of peanut butter can set you up for the day. Great for a busy school run.”low salt breakfast

Fat-free Greek yoghurt, a handful of berries and almonds.

“Greek yoghurt is widely labelled as a “superfood”, such are the vast nutritional benefits that it offers. A good source of potassium, protein, calcium and essential vitamins, this food forms an ideal base for a healthy breakfast for growing kids.”reduced salt breakfast

See my previous post on Healthy Breakfast ideas for more inspiration.

Lunch Box Fillings lower in Salt

  • Make a pasta pot as an alternative to sandwichesAc
  • Pots of low fat/fat free yogurt (you can add fruit too)
  • Seeds for snacks (sunflower, pumpkin
  • Add fresh tinned fish instead of processed meat or cheese
  • Vegetables and fruit
  • Rice pudding
  • Plain (unsalted) popcorn
  • Low sugar jelly
  • Rice cakes
  • No added salt crispspopcorn low salt lunch box filler

For more information about Salt visit Action on Salt 

You can also download the FREE Change4Life Food Smart App


This is not a commissioned post – I just feel strongly about people’s diets and fitness, especially children.