Why even a veggie burger can harm you; salt dangers are everywhere

Friday 20 March, 2015  

  •  Here’s why indoor skydiving isn’t as dangerous as a burger pit stop
  • The High Street eateries putting our children’s lives at risk
  • Revealed: the five questions to ask to keep the family safe and avoid salt dangers

Last week we took a family trip to an indoor skydiving centre to meet up with friends.

It seemed a strange concept to me... how high was this building? How would my dear, darling daughter be safe leaping from the top of it?

But the reality is the reverse of what I was imagining.

You see the ‘skydive’ actually takes place in a circular room where the floor is a net and from below powerful air currents lift you up.

I watched as my teenage offspring and friends pinged around the walls and shot up into the air like clothes in a tumble dryer.

Fascinating stuff, but not something I will be trying anytime soon!
At the end of it all one of the mothers said she was taking her kids for a treat at a burger bar and we were all welcome to join.

“Huh, some chance of that with Dad here,” said Ms Grumpy Knickers, “he won’t let me near the place.”

Turning to me the startled mother said, “Oh! It’s ok we only have veggie burgers and small fries rather than anything unhealthy.”

I wasn’t sure what she meant by unhealthy in this context.

Maybe a nuclear bomb...or a gallon of hydrochloric acid...or perhaps a bucket of virulent bacteria?

These were only a few of the things I could think of worse than the fare in ‘MacKing’, or ‘KetchupFlavouredCrud’. (Or whatever their hateful red and gold signage says.)

Anyway after a bit of negotiation we all agreed that a delightful Italian pizza cafe, making their own dough, using real mozzarella, fresh tomatoes and locally cured ham with a side serving of crisp salad was more to everyone’s taste.

On the way home I began to think that maybe I had been a little harsh in my views of burger joint food.

But I was to find out that my instincts were right (please note daughter dear!).

Eateries named and shamed in new survey

Had you realised that this week was Salt Awareness Week?

This event was organised by Consensus Action on Salt & Health (CASH) a group set up in 1996 as a response to the refusal of the Chief Medical Officer to endorse the COMA recommendations to reduce salt intake.

They work tirelessly to lobby ministers and the media to correct the damaging levels of salt which finds its way into our food, and this week they published a fascinating and scary report.

They analysed the salt content in 218 children’s meals from 23 different eateries and their results were shocking.

For a start the ‘veggie burger and small fries’ that was offered to us a few days previously was shown to contain 4.6g salt per serving (representing 155% of 4-6 year olds maximum recommended daily allowance (RDA), or 75% of an adults RDA).

This really is far too much for any child, but the horrors don’t end there.  Here is a sample of the reports main findings:

  • Three quarters of the meals in the survey (74%) contained a third or more of the current maximum daily recommended intake of salt for children.
  • A more worrying figure was that over a quarter of meals (29%) contained more than 2g of salt per meal. For a 1-3 year old, that’s their maximum recommended intake for a whole day.
  • Based upon an average of 40% of parents eating out with their children at least once a fortnight, and those children eating the higher salt foods, then each could be adding over 10 extra teaspoons of salt to their diet a year.
  • The concluding evidence is that children’s meals in ‘family friendly’ eateries revealed to STILL contain dangerously high levels of salt - habituating children to the taste of salt. This habituation contributes to the increasing levels of cardiovascular disease in adult life.
  • The Department of Health estimates that reducing salt intakes by just 1g - a pinch of salt - would save 4,147 preventable deaths and £288 million to the NHS every year.

Which makes me very glad that our family have always shunned this type of fast food, but even we aren’t perfect.

Remember that beautiful wood smoked pizza we chose instead of the grease burger special? The one with the local ham on it?

You guessed it, ham has a high level of salt too.

But, the amount of ham on the pizza was very little, the mozzarella used sparingly and the tomatoes unsalted.

You see I know all this because I asked the lady who cooked it to keep the salt levels low...

...and that is in keeping with the recommendations from CASH – here are their top five tips:

  1. Ask your waiter for ‘less salt please!’ - You wouldn’t expect sugar to be added to your cup of tea, so why should they add salt to your food? This counts for adults too!
  2. Ask them to serve salad dressings, sauces or gravy on the side, so you can decide how much to add.
  3. Does your meal contain salty ingredients such as olives, capers, anchovies, cheese and cured meats? Ask for less, or better yet replace them with fresh ingredients such as vegetables.
  4. Ask if they have nutrition information so you can see exactly which meals are higher in salt (more than 1.8g per serving is ‘high’).
  5. Parmesan with your pasta? Say ‘no thanks’!
(Reproduced from here)

A final thought

I happily support CASH in their endeavours but want more of our political leaders to concentrate on the way our health is constantly put on the line for profit.

The evidence is there, they just have to act.

A sugar and salt tax would do nicely please...see how quickly these damaging ingredients would disappear from fast foods then.

Faster than a teenager in a sky diving tube I’ll wager!

Yours, as always





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