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.

28 thoughts on “Salt Awareness Week: Children getting a third of their salt before school”

  1. I have high BP myself, so I definitely read labels and check sodium levels on things I serve my family. It’s so important.

  2. I didn’t realize certain kids’ cereals had so much salt! I love your low-salt recipe suggestions, particularly low-fat greek yogurt and low salt popcorn.

  3. Wow I can’t believe how much salt there is in breakfast cereal, that’s so good to know! Heart health is really important to me since heart disease runs in my family so I am always trying to limit my salt intake

  4. I was just talking about this the other day with my friend. In the hospital where we learn, there are a lot of high bp cases. I’ve cut down on salt a lot. I’ve seen the changes.It’s very important.

  5. Salt can be dangerous if not moderated. They say kids are excused since they’re young but for me, it’s better to get them used to eating low sodium food as early as possible. These are very good tips!

  6. That’s a lot of salt. I try to make a homemade breakfast for my son before he goes to school to control the salt intake.

  7. I never knew that cereals contain that much salt. Thanks for letting us know and giving us the alternative for kid’s breakfast.

  8. I never knew there was so much salt in those cereals! I am going to start doing lower salt breakfast ideas for my kids.

  9. Oh no! This is the first time I heard about this! I never knew it was this serious! I must check all the food we are taking and get some healthy alternatives now.

  10. This is such a helpful post! I sometimes serve cereals with fruits for breakfast but it seems I need to be on a lookout for salty intake for my kid.

  11. WOW! Never knew this much salt was in cereal. We usually go for oatmeal, but still, that is a lot of salt. We try to not use salt, except when we really need it.

  12. High BP is such a silent killer. We need to do something for the next generation. I would like to spread the awareness. Thanks for share.

  13. I didn’t know salt awareness week was a thing! Thanks doing the research and sharing the information about hidden salt. I used to watch my sodium intake, but I fell out of paying attention. I’m glad I read this so I can keep a look out again.

  14. 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!

  15. I din’t know this too, I am always fighting with my kids about breakfast is my favourite meal of the day but they don’t like i love peanut butter so obsess with it. I am going to try them with the porridge. So helpful information by the way. Sometimes we don’t check the ingredients and it is very important.

  16. Many cereals are notoriously bad for kids and yet parents insist on buying them! Great post on highlighting alternatives.

  17. I definitely watch out for too much sugar in food for my children, but don’t pay too much attention to salt. Thanks for bringing this to my attention!

  18. I think cereals have a lot to answer for – they’re such hidden sources of salt and sugar and everyone think they are healthy. I never add table salt to food but it’s hard to avoid when you eat out!

  19. I had no idea some of these cereals had so much salt. I guess I need to reevaluate what my daughter eats in the morning.

  20. We all know that ‘good energy’ basics like porridge, bananas, sugar free peanut butter, Greek yoghurt with berries or dippy eggs would be a better option here, it’s obviously just a case of having ten minutes more in the morning (as with most things…) But worth flagging this story up if your child gets a bowl of cereal at pre-school Breakfast Club…

  21. Hello Joy, those are nice alternatives to heavy salt laden foods. Salt is one of the most overused additives in cooking or most food preparation in general. As well as having someone get their food and then salt their meal on top of an already possibly salty preparation, this over abundance of salt just adds insult to injury as far as your health is concerned. Although cooking without salt doesn’t have to be bland, it is what most salt lovers expect and tend to cringe over. However sometimes due to health concerns or just general healthy choice changes you may be implementing, you may actually end up discovering some preferable alternatives to salt.

    Alternatives for flavoring foods without the use of salt: lemon juice, ginger, rosemary … and kelp. I also enjoy using sweet alternatives to salty choices, such as taking jellies or marmalades and adding them to meat dishes for a kick in the opposite direction. The good thing about marmalades they make excellent glaze and sauce preparations that can be used instead of all that salt.

    Cheers then.


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