Salt levels in meals served at major fast food restaurant chains vary considerably across various developed countries, according to a new global study.
An international team of researchers from Australia, Britain, Canada, France, New Zealand and the United States, observed that the meals in Canada and the US are saltier, compared to the same food in other major countries.
The research, which included more than 2,100 fast foods items in six major countries including the US, the UK, Australia, New Zealand and France, showed US as having the highest levels of sodium, followed by Canada.
The food items included burgers, chicken nuggets, pizza, salad, sandwiches and fries.
The study, which was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, considered the menus of six major chains - Burger King, Domino's Pizza, Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonald's, Pizza Hut and Subway.
The report further revealed that the fries served at Canadian fast food chains contained over twice the amount of salt as the fries served at the US locations, and also there is a significant difference in the salt content of the same product in different countries.
On average, Canadians consume nearly 3,400mg of sodium every day. According to the researchers, higher levels of salt can be associated to high blood pressure, heart disease, osteoporosis, stomach cancer and asthma.
Several countries across the globe have been able to reduce salt intake. However, fast food chains often refer to technical food processing issues as barriers to further decreasing salt content in their products.
University of Calgary professor of medicine and co-author of the study Norman Campbell said that salt reduction programs need to guide industry and oversee it with targets and timelines for foods, monitoring and evaluation, and stronger regulatory measures if the structured voluntary efforts are not effective.
Image: The fries served at Canadian fast food chains contained over twice the amount of salt as the fries served at the US locations. Photo: Rainer Zenz