Lifestyle & Belief

Fast food salt content varies by country: study


McDonald's french fries sit under a heat lamp at a McDonald's restaurant on April 19, 2011, in San Francisco, California.


Justin Sullivan

How salty are your McDonald’s fries? It depends which country you’re in when you scarf them down, according to a new study published in the April 16 issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal. Researchers found that salt content in food sold by six transnational fast food chains varies widely by country, CBS News reported.

"We saw marked variability in the reported salt content of products provided by major transnational fast food companies," Norman Campbell, professor of medicine at the University of Calgary, wrote in the study, according to CBS News.

Campbell and some of his co-authors belong to World Action on Salt and Health, which works to encourage salt reduction in diets and the food supply, according to Reuters.

The researchers compared salt in food sold by Domino's Pizza, Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonald's, Pizza Hut, Subway and Burger King/Hungry Jack’s in Australia, Canada, France, New Zealand, the UK and US, CBS News reported.

Overall, fast food in the US had the most salt, while fast food in the UK had the least salt, Reuters reported. The lower salt content of food produced for British consumers could be "a consequence of industry's active participation in salt reduction efforts in that country," the researchers suggested, according to CBS News.

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As for those fries, Canada’s are the saltiest. The researchers discovered that across all fast food chains studied, french fries sold in Canada contained on average more than twice as much sodium as the pomme frites produced for French and American customers, CBS News reported.

No matter where you indulge, however, fast food is high in sodium, the researchers noted. In all countries overall, fast-food burgers contained an average of 1.3 grams of salt (520 grams of sodium), Reuters reported. The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended that individuals consume less than 2,000 milligrams of sodium in a day.

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