How to Involve Your Family in Salt Awareness Week
This week is Salt Awareness Week running from 4th until 11th March 2024 and its purpose is to help raise awareness of the damaging effect that too much salt can have on our health and we have some useful Tips on how you could Involve Your Family in Salt Awareness Week this year.
The UK’s Salt Awareness Week aims to spotlight hidden salt in popular food products and inspire action among those who prefer their food, and their children’s, with less unnecessary salt. This annual event focuses on educating the public about the health risks associated with high salt intake and promoting healthier, low-salt dietary choices.
How Salt can Affect your Child
Did you know that children need less than 1g of salt a day to stay healthy and this can easily obtained from a healthy and varied diet.
But like most adults, many children in the UK are probably eating too much salt especially if their diet includes processed foods and if we don’t watch, too much salt can have a negative affect on their bodies, for example: –
High Blood Pressure
Having loads of salt in your diet results in higher blood pressure in children as well as adults and the higher the blood pressure is in childhood, the higher it will be in adulthood, which increases the risk of developing health issues later in life, such as heart disease and stroke
It’s really important during childhood to build strong bones so that it provides protection later in life. Calcium is particularly important for growing bones, although if you have too much salt in your diet it can cause calcium loss through bones, which leads to bone to thin. Eventually it can result in fractures, which take longer to heal, and increases the risk of developing osteoporosis later in life, especially in girls.
We are always hearing about obesity in the news and sometime that can make people zone out and not listen as it’s a constant stream of info. But sadly, obesity rates have gone up worldwide and reality is that more than a quarter of children are overweight or obese – 26% of boys and 29% of girls. So, we really should pay attention, especially when in recent studies it suggests that salt directly increases risk of obesity in both adults and children and too indirectly increases risk of obesity as excessive salt consumption makes you thirsty and increases the amount of fluid you drink and if you’re not drinking water and instead some form of juice, well a third of all drinks consumed by 4-18 year olds are sugar-sweetened beverages which have been shown to be related to childhood obesity, so its a bit of a vicious circle!
What is the UK Recommended Maximum Salt Intake for children?
Which Foods are High in Salt?
Click Here to Print off a Handy Shopping Guide
How to Understand Food Labels
Not all food labels are the same, some are super easy to read as they use a colour coded label which makes it easier to work out in a glance if a product is high in Salt as it will be coloured in Red
But aside from how the label is laid out on food, as a General Rule what you need to look for is:
Foods High in Salt have more than 1.5g Salt per 100g or more than 1.8g per portion
Foods Low in Salt have less than 0.3g Salt per 100g
Easy Ways to Reduce your Child’s Salt Intake
- Check Food Labels for salt levels and compare other brands as they might have lower salt levels. For example, baked beans you can buy a pack of 4 tins of reduced salt and sugar own supermarket brand of baked beans for £1 so they are not that more expensive than higher salt level Baked Beans, but certainly healthier.
- Limit food that has high salt levels to only once a day
- Don’t live off takeaways and fast food as they have high salt levels, only have them as an occasional treat
- If your little one has packed lunches then you could swap items so to include low salt options such as boiled egg, salad, raw vegetable and fresh fruit
- Don’t add salt to your child’s food either during cooking or when served at the table it is just teaching them to enjoy salted flavoured food
- Limit the use of ketchup, barbecue sauce, mustard and mayonnaise and even though the lower salt version are more expensive, if you can swap them over as an added help, the kids very rarely can tell the difference.
- Have breaded and battered food no more than twice a week
- Cook more from fresh rather than constantly eating ready meals or processed frozen foods
- When cooking limit flavour enhancers like gravy or stock cubes, instead you can add flavour by using fresh or frozen herbs, spices, garlic, pepper, chilli, vinegar or lemon juice.
- By whipping up homemade soup, you’re not only cutting down on your child’s salt intake but also creating a hearty, healthy meal. Curious? Dive into our ‘Benefits of Soup‘ piece for some tasty ideas and tips!
Remember our children are not born liking salty foods, this is developed over time as we get older and get used to salt in food. Like most things children learn by example, so as parents we are the ones teaching them to consume high salt levels.
Therefore, the best investment in your child’s future would be to spend time with them cooking from scratch and not adding any salt. Never have salt shakers available for salt to be added once served and talk to your children so they understand why high salt levels in food is really not great. To Print off a Fun Children’s Placemat for Salt Awareness Week Click Here
We all know that habits that are formed in childhood do carry through into adult years, so why not give your child a good habit for life by reducing their salt intake today.