Home Lifestyle ‘Excessive’ amount of salt found in these popular kids’ menus

‘Excessive’ amount of salt found in these popular kids’ menus

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A new study has revealed how much salt really is in kids’ meals (Credits: Getty Images)

Parents may be startled to know how much salt is actually contained in the food on children’s menus at popular restaurants. 

Kids aged between four and six are recommended to eat no more than 3g of salt a day (six sachets), according to NHS guidelines

However, shocking new data has found that more than a third of children’s main meals sold in restaurants surpass the government’s salt target.

Action on Salt, a group aiming to raise awareness of salt content in food, found that 37 per cent of children’s main meals sold in the ‘out of home’ sector exceeded the maximum target set by the government of 1.71g to be achieved by the end of this year.

Shockingly, almost 50% of children’s restaurant meals provide at least half of a child’s daily recommended limit. And some meals contain a child’s entire day’s worth of salt, according to the group’s findings.

Action on Salt researched 37 restaurants and found that 29 provided accessible nutrition information for customers, in accordance with legislation set by the government in 2021 on the labelling of calories at large business.

The highest overall salt content in kid’s meals was found in Gourmet Burger Kitchen, averaging 3.06g per meal. However the highest salt content in a child’s meal was found to be Bella Italia’s Larger Vegan Margherita Pizza – with 4.4g salt.

Nutritional information was collected by Action on Salt between February and March 2024, but some changes have been made since the report was published.



Children’s meals exceeding a six-year-old’s entire day’s worth of salt

  • Gourmet Burger Kitchen – Junior Cheeseburger with Skinny Fries with 4.2g 
  • Prezzo Rigatoni Carbonara with 3.9g salt 
  • Hungry Horse – Quorn Sausages, Fresh Garden Salad and Baked Beans with 3.59g

*Data correct at the time of research publication

The problem doesn’t just revolve around salt; many of the meals were also found to have ‘excessive levels of calories, fat and saturated fat’, according to the study. 

Only six restaurants had their entire menu below the target set by the government: Burger King, Ikea, Pret A Manger, Subway, Toby and YO! Sushi. 

Subway is the restaurant with the lowest average salt content in their children’s meals (0.79g).

What health experts are saying about salt content in kids’ menus

An extremely salty diet can lead to health issues including high blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart attack and strokes. This is why experts in the health field are concerned about the findings.

Graham MacGregor, professor of cardiovascular medicine at Queen Mary University of London and chairman of Action on Salt, explains: ‘Children in the UK are eating too much salt, which puts them on track to develop high blood pressure later in life.

‘Raised blood pressure is the biggest cause of strokes and heart disease, which in themselves are the biggest cause of death and a major cause of disability.’

Dr Pauline Swift, vice chair of Blood Pressure UK, is also urging the government to ‘pay attention’ to improve salt regulation.

She added: ‘Excessive salt and calories in restaurant and take-out food contributes massively to a child’s perception that the taste of certain meals is a perfectly normal, yet it is contributing to the growing epidemic of obesity and high blood pressure in children and young adults.

‘The government need to pay attention to the call for improvements in salt regulation of this sector of the food industry.’

What the restaurants have said

Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK) told Metro.co.uk that the Junior Cheeseburger and Skinny Fries on the kids’ menu actually contains 2.6g of salt and that the average salt content for all meals and side options on the menu is 1.9g.

A statement from a GBK spokesperson said: ‘We understand that our restaurant is a destination, not intended for daily visits. However, we are committed to meeting government targets and continuously improving the nutritional content of our menu.’ 

The restaurant also stated that it has reduced salt in both beef burgers and fries, and noted that salt is not available on the table and guests must obtain it from the condiment station. They added that the majority of salt within their meals comes from the bread bun. 

GBK’s nutritional information, including that for children’s meals, can be found on its website.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Hungry Horse said: ‘All products on our Hungry Horse Children’s Menu meet the Public Health England 2024 salt reduction targets.

‘Since 2019, we’ve reduced the average salt content in our menu items by nearly 15% – 3% of which has been in 2024.

Diets high in salt have been linked to high blood pressure (Picture: Getty Images)

‘We endeavour to work towards decreasing this further in our next menu update.’

A spokesperson for Prezzo said the latest spring/summer menu, which launched in April, has cut the number of items exceeding salt targets from 68% to 36%. The Rigatoni Carbonara now contains 1.6g of salt. You can find the latest kids menu here.

The spokesperson explained: ‘We take the nutritional needs of our youngest customers seriously and are committed to a continual reduction in sodium on our Kid’s menu. 

‘Indeed, in our latest Summer menu, launched on April 30th, we have cut the number of items exceeding salt targets by nearly half; from 68% to 36%. 

‘We remain committed to offering delicious Italian cuisine with a wide variety of choices for all dietary needs, while prioritising the health and well-being of our guests.’



Childrens meals with the lowest reported salt content

  • Wetherspoon Tomato & Mascarpone Pasta with 0.0g   
  • ASK Italian Mini Main Pasta with Butter with 0.01g  
  • Prezzo Gluten-free Kids Fusilli Butter with 0.05g  
  • Hungry Horse Impossible Nuggets with Mini Corn on the Cob and Chips with 0.12g  
  • Harvester 4oz Rump Steak with Corn Cob and Garden Peas with 0.14g

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