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Salt varies widely in fast food internationally

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They might look like the same Chicken McNuggets, but depending on whether you buy them at a McDonald’s in London or in Augusta, their salt content could vary widely, and that could have health implications, according to a study out Monday.

McDonald's Chicken McNuggets had 2½ times more salt in the United States than in Britain.  ASSOCIATED PRESS
ASSOCIATED PRESS
McDonald's Chicken McNuggets had 2½ times more salt in the United States than in Britain.

Research teams in six countries looked at multinational fast-food chains and specifically looked at the salt content of their offerings.

Excess salt in the diet, along with lack of exercise and obesity, is a leading cause of hypertension, said Robin Borders, a registered dietitian for Medical College of Georgia Hospital and Clinics.

Reducing the intake of salt modestly could save as many lives as smoking-cessation efforts, the authors write in the study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

The study found that the salt in fast-food offerings from the same company in different countries could be vastly different.

McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets, for instance, had 2½ times more salt in the U.S. than those served in the United Kingdom, the study said.

There was also wide variation between companies with similar products. The salt level in sandwiches from Pizza Hut tended to be 70 percent higher than those from Subway, according to the study.

The authors said there is an effort in the United Kingdom between the government and companies to lower the amount of salt offered in foods, which could be having an impact already. That could rebut arguments from the food industry that retooling to use less salt would be a substantial burden, the authors said.

“Decreasing salt in fast foods would appear to be technically feasible and is likely to produce important gains in population health – the mean salt levels of fast foods are high and these foods are eaten often,” the study concluded.

Researchers used data from 2010, and McDonald’s has reduced the salt content in many of its chicken products, including McNuggets, by 10 percent since then, McDonald’s USA spokeswoman Danya Proud said.

The company’s goal is to reduce sodium content by 2015 by an average of 15 percent across the menu, she said.

“We are also listening to our customers to ensure we continue to evolve to meet their taste and nutrition expectations,” Proud said.

High salt content is often overlooked when people eat out, Borders said.

The problem comes from eating processed and prepared foods where salt is often used as a preservative, Borders said.

Even with salads, dressing can add a big dose of sodium, and extras such as croutons can add up, she said.

HOW MUCH SALT IS IN THAT CHICKEN?

Researchers in six countries looking at the salt levels in fast food found great variation among some items and a relatively high amount of salt overall, particularly in chicken products, said a study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

CalorieKing.com stated that a 10-piece order of McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets has 902 milligrams of sodium, about 38 percent of a recommended daily amount, along with 30 grams of total fat.

A breast piece of KFC Original Recipe has 1,080 milligrams of sodium, about 45 percent of a daily recommended amount, and 21 grams of fat.

– From staff reports

Comments (7) Add comment
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my.voice
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my.voice 04/16/12 - 02:35 pm
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And how much, pray-tell, did

And how much, pray-tell, did someone get paid for this study?

omnomnom
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omnomnom 04/16/12 - 04:31 pm
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you're better off not knowing

you're better off not knowing what you're eating when it comes to fast food anyway, right my.voice?

my.voice
4930
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my.voice 04/16/12 - 06:48 pm
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I think salt is the last

I think salt is the last thing you have to worry about with mcnuggets!

omnomnom
3964
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omnomnom 04/16/12 - 08:16 pm
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russia is forcing mcdonalds

russia is forcing mcdonalds to list every ingredient in their products because the company wanted grocery tax rates instead of restaurant tax rates.. i can't wait to see what i've not been missing

itsanotherday1
45610
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itsanotherday1 04/17/12 - 01:07 am
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Contents need to posted on

Contents need to posted on menus, etc. If you've ever studied nutritional contents of various restaurant foods, you would know things are not always what you think. You know Aussie Cheese Fries are fattening, but I bet not more than 1 in 10 people could guess what % of their healthy daily calorie intake a serving of these would consume. Ignorance is why we have an obesity epidemic, and the more detailed information readily available, the more informed choices people can make. If they still choose to eat that plate of Aussie Fries or Bloomin Onion, then they deserve the poor health it brings.
Restaurants fight tooth and nail to avoid publishing nutritional contents for a reason.......

happychimer
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happychimer 04/17/12 - 09:35 am
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If you want fries with no

If you want fries with no salt, then order that.I am not suppose to have much salt, and now I don't like a lot of salt. I read labels in the grocery store.I even prefer most vegetables with no salt at all.

happychimer
18798
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happychimer 04/17/12 - 11:18 am
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soapy if I eat foods high in

soapy if I eat foods high in salt, my blood pressure goes up, and I also get heartburn when I eat foods high in salt. my system has adjusted to foods low in salt, so I am not going to start eating foods high in salt just because you say it is ok.I think I will listen to my dr, whom I have trusted for over 20 years. As for drinking water, I drink at least 3 quarts a day.

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