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Fast food is saltier in U.S. than other countries

Posted by: Colleen Stoxen Updated: April 16, 2012 - 12:24 PM

Fast food may often be high in salt, but the exact levels seem to vary based on the country you live in.

Looking at fast-food menu information in six countries, researchers found that the same item sometimes had different salt levels in different countries, according to a study published Monday.

In general, certain foods had less salt in the U.K. than in the U.S. or Canada -- like McDonald's chicken nuggets and some chain-restaurant pizzas.

One serving of Chicken McNuggets, for example, came with 1.5 grams of salt (or 600 milligrams of sodium) in the U.S. and 1.7 grams of salt (680 mg of sodium) in Canada. That compared with just 0.6 grams of salt (240 mg of sodium) in the U.K.

The chicken nuggets served up in Australia, France and New Zealand had salt levels that fell somewhere in between.

Salt was pervasive regardless of location, however. Overall, fast-food burgers served up an average of 1.3 grams of salt (or 520 grams of sodium) across all countries, with only small national differences.

But researchers said the study is not an attack on the fast-food industry. Country-to-country variations are seen in packaged food, too. And heavy salt use is not unique to fast food but also occurs in many restaurants.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), people should get less than 2,000 mg of sodium over a whole day. A 2010 study in the New England Journal of Medicine estimated that if Americans cut 3 grams of salt out of their daily diets -- or 1,200 mg of sodium -- it would save up to 92,000 lives each year.

Read more from Reuters.

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