Average UK salt content of packaged bread has fallen 20 percent in a decade

June 17, 2013, British Medical Journal

The average salt content of packaged bread sold in the UK has fallen by 20 per cent over the past decade. But salt levels still vary widely, indicating that further targets are required, finds research published in the online only journal BMJ Open.

Bread is the biggest contributor of in the UK, providing almost a fifth of the total derived from . The recommended daily intake for UK adults is a maximum of 6 g, with the current average 8.1 g a day.

Excess dietary salt can lead to , and an increased , stroke, and , as well as to other health problems. And the evidence shows that curbing dietary salt at the is one of the most cost effective means of improving public health.

The researchers base their findings on an analysis of the salt content of various packaged breads available in UK supermarkets between 2001 and 2011. They analysed salt levels in 40 products in 2001; in 138 products in 2006; and in 203 products in 2011.

In 2001, the average in packaged bread was 1.23 g per 100 g. By 2006 this had fallen to 1.05 g, and by 2011 this had fallen further still to 0.98 g/100 g, equivalent to a reduction in salt levels of around 20% over the decade. The salt content of 18 products analysed at all three time points fell by 17%.

And, overall, the number of products meeting the Department of Health's 2012 target - of less than or equal to 1 g of salt per 100 g - rose from under a third (28%) in 2001 to almost three quarters (71%) in 2011.

But wide variations in salt content persisted in similar products, and between supermarket own-label and branded products, the results showed.

In 2001, 38% of supermarket own-label loaves met the 2012 target compared with just 17% of branded products. By 2011, the equivalent figures were 89% and 42%, respectively.

Little difference in salt content was found between white, wholemeal, and brown loaves "despite the common perception that wholemeal and brown bread are healthier alternatives to white bread," note the authors.

The variations in indicate that there is further scope to lower levels even further in bread, say the study authors. "This requires further progressive lower targets to be set, so that the UK can continue to lead the world in salt reduction and save the maximum number of lives," they write.

But they caution: "While a voluntary target based approach works to encourage industry reductions, the targets need to be coupled with the forceful government or quasi-government agency to ensure that all sectors of the food industry are aware of the targets and reducing salt in their products to meet [them]."

A target based approach does work, they conclude, adding: "Other countries around the world need to follow the UK's lead and set salt targets."

Explore further: ASH: People with hypertension prefer higher salt taste

More information: www.bmjopen.bmj.com/lookup/doi … /bmjopen-2013-002936

Related Stories

ASH: People with hypertension prefer higher salt taste

May 16, 2013
(HealthDay)—People with hypertension have a taste for more salt in their food than do individuals with normotension, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hypertension, held from ...

Voluntary reduction has failed as processed and fast food salt levels remain high as ever

May 13, 2013
The dangerously high salt levels in processed food and fast food remain essentially unchanged, despite numerous calls from public and private health agencies for the food industry to voluntarily reduce sodium levels, reports ...

Fewer people adding salt at the table

January 28, 2013
The number of people in England adding salt to food at the table fell by more than a quarter in the five years following a national campaign, according to research published in the British Journal of Nutrition.

Reducing salt and increasing potassium will have major global health benefits

April 4, 2013
Cutting down on salt and, at the same time, increasing levels of potassium in our diet will have major health and cost benefits across the world, according to studies published in BMJ today.

Salt levels in fast food vary significantly between countries

April 16, 2012
Salt levels vary significantly in the fast foods sold by six major companies in various developed countries, which suggests that technical issues, often cited as barriers to salt reduction initiatives, are not the issue, ...

Bread with 50% less salt is just as appetizing

November 9, 2011
People are just as willing to eat bread containing half the amount of salt as regular bread, according to a study published in the scientific periodical Journal of Nutrition. The study was carried out as part of the project ...

Recommended for you

Number of older people with four or more diseases will double by 2035, say researchers

January 23, 2018
A study published today in Age and Ageing, the scientific journal of the British Geriatrics Society, reports that the number of older people diagnosed with four or more diseases will double between 2015 and 2035. A third ...

Placental accumulation of flame retardant chemical alters serotonin production in rats

January 22, 2018
A North Carolina State University-led research team has shown a connection between exposure to a widely used flame retardant chemical mixture and disruption of normal placental function in rats, leading to altered production ...

Marijuana use does not lower chances of getting pregnant

January 22, 2018
Marijuana use—by either men or women—does not appear to lower a couple's chances of getting pregnant, according to a new study led by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers.

Women run faster after taking newly developed supplement, study finds

January 19, 2018
A new study found that women who took a specially prepared blend of minerals and nutrients for a month saw their 3-mile run times drop by almost a minute.

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.