Despite a UK-wide drive to cut salt levels in food, children in the UK are still eating far too much salt, with much of it coming from breads and cereals, according to a study published in the journal Hypertension.
Health guidelines suggest children should eat less than a teaspoon of salt a day, but 70% of the 340 children in the study ate more than this, with breads and cereals accounting for more than one-third of it, with a fifth coming from meat and one-tenth from dairy products.
The UK Department of Health said that although its voluntary salt reduction code with manufacturers was working more progress is still needed.
Manufacturers say they are reducing salt in many products, including bread, but Lead researcher Prof Graham MacGregor, who is chairman of both the charity Blood Pressure UK and the lobby group Consensus Action on Salt & Health (CASH), said manufacturers still needed to do more to cut out salt.
He said that with most of the salt consumed coming from processed or restaurant food rather than at the table, it was very difficult for parents to reduce the amount their children consumed.
The study authors say efforts must be redoubled because salt increases the risk of high blood pressure from a very young age and high blood pressure can lead to heart disease and stroke later in life.