A & W's "Chubby Junior" Meal has won Canada's first national "Salt Lick" award. This dubious title was created by the Canadian Stroke Network, the Canadian Obesity Network and the Advanced Foods and Materials Network to raise awareness of the sodium content of popular kids' menus. It coincides with World Salt Awareness Week, which involves 18 countries including Canada, the UK, the U.S. and Australia.
The three Canadian networks are calling for lower sodium levels in processed foods, particularly fast foods marketed to children. Fast food restaurants often seek to draw children to these high-sodium foods with toys, contests and birthday clubs.
International action: Sodium content of kids' fast food revealed
World Action on Salt and Health, a UK-based nutrition organization, compiled nutrition information to determine the fast food meal with the highest sodium content. The nutrition information came from restaurant websites created by the food companies themselves. Condiments and desserts were not included in the compilation.
Here's the data on some Canadian kids' menu items:
- A&W "Chubby Junior" Kids' Meal (burger, fries, drink) has 1,910 milligrams of sodium.
- Boston Pizza's Bacon Double Cheeseburger Quesadilla with fries has 1,720 mg of sodium. Add an Orange Iceberg drink (170 mg) and the total is 1,890 mg.
- Harvey's Hamburger Kids Meal has 1,485 mg of sodium.
- Harvey's website states that their Cheeseburger Meal contains 2,145 mg of sodium. (Harvey's says this information is incorrect.)
- Swiss Chalet's Grilled Cheese Sandwich contains 1,120 mg of sodium. With fries and a bottomless carbonated drink, the total is more than 1,165 mg.
- Wendy's Junior Cheeseburger Deluxe has 690 mg of sodium. With fries (270 mg) and a Junior Frosty (90 mg) and the child is getting 1,050 mg of sodium in a single sitting.
- Burger King's Original Whopper Junior Sandwich with Cheese has 700 mg of sodium. With fries (240 mg) and a Root Beer (25 mg) and the total is 965 mg of sodium.
- McDonald's Junior Chicken Sandwich has 760 mg of sodium. Add a small fries (180 mg) and Childs Root Beer (25 mg) and the total is 965 mg of sodium.
How much sodium does your child eat?
According to the 2004 Canadian Community Health Survey, more than 80 percent of one to eight year-olds consume far beyond the recommended daily upper limit of sodium. Children ages one to three averaged close to 2,000 mg a day, while four to eight year-olds had an average daily intake of 2,700.
The recommended sodium intake for children is 1,000 mg a day for one to three year-olds. Four to eight year-olds should have no more than 1,200 mg of sodium a day and children age nine and over should limit their sodium intake to 1,500 mg a day.
Leslie Beck, RD has written about strategies to avoid pint-size meals with mega sodium in the Globe and Mail. For tips on how to reduce the amount of sodium your children consume, check out her interview on Canada AM or pick up a copy of Healthy Eating for Preteens and Teens.
If you can't seem to get your kids to eat less fast food, nutrition consulting may be the answer. Click here to find out more about how Leslie can work with your family.
All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.