29 Jul, 2016 Last updated: 29 Jul, 2016

As we head into the final month of winter and warming comfort foods, VicHealth is encouraging Victorian families to watch for hidden salt.

Download the media release.

A recent poll commissioned by the health promotion foundation found that one quarter (24%) of Victorians do not know that too much salt in childhood can lead to a lifetime of health risks. 

VicHealth Dietitian Sonya Stanley said that the majority of the salt we eat is in processed foods and many parents don’t know it is hidden in so many foods.

“We all know fresh, healthy foods like fruit, veggies, wholegrains, lean protein and low fat dairy should be part of our everyday diet. When it comes to processed and packaged foods, parents often worry about sugar and fat, but salt is a hidden ingredient that can be forgotten,” said Ms Stanley.

“The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a maximum daily limit of 5g of salt (2000mg of sodium) each day for adults and around 3g (1400 mg) for children. We found that nearly half of those polled (47%) were unaware or unsure of these recommendations.

“Salt can have a significant impact on a child’s health. Excess salt intake in childhood can lead to high blood pressure and an increased risk of strokes, heart attacks, kidney disease, osteoporosis and obesity in adulthood.

“Takeaway foods like pizzas and chicken nuggets can be very high in salt, but also everyday foods like bread, cereal and pasta sauces can contain a lot of salt.

“One hidden salt shocker is a fruit muffin, which can contain 410mg of salt – that’s more than a third of a child’s daily recommended total.

“The foods we enjoy in winter, like soups, stews and curries, can contain significant levels of salt if they are made from tinned or processed ingredients. For a healthier meal, include plenty of veggies and beans like kidney beans or chickpeas. If fresh vegetables aren’t an option, buy frozen ones.

“As a general guide to reduce your intake of hidden salt, look at food labels and choose products with less than 400mg of sodium per 100g. The FoodSwitch app can help – just scan the barcode and it will help you make healthier choices.

“Salt is not the only flavour enhancer – herbs, spices and lemon juice make meals delicious,” said Ms Stanley.

VicHealth with Heart Foundation (Victoria) is currently running an awareness campaign on salt consumption. Go to www.donttrustyourtastebuds.com.au for more information.

The VicHealth poll involved 632 members of a market research panel in Victoria. 

Note to editors:

 Higher salt lunchbox  Salt (grams)
 Sandwich: bread, ham, cheese, tomato sauce and salad
 Cheese and biscuits  0.6
 Dip  0.4
 Total  5.0
 Reduced salt lunchbox (containing reduced salt products)  Salt (grams)
 Sandwich: bread, ham, cheese, tomato sauce and salad
 Cheese and biscuits  0.3
 Dip  0.1
 Total  1.7

Healthy non-salty additional snacks for the lunchbox:

Vegetable sticks 

VicHealth Media Contact

Sam Dalton, VicHealth Acting Media Advisor | Tel  03 9667 1319  | M 0435 761 732E  [email protected]