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Salt 'kills 1.6 million' worldwide

Credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons

Consuming too much salt leads to more than 1.6 million heart disease-related deaths around the world each year, research suggests.

Scientists based the finding on an analysis of 205 surveys of sodium intake in countries representing nearly three-quarters of the world's adult population.

Effects of sodium on blood pressure and cardiovascular disease risk were determined in a separate study of pooled trial data.

The average level of sodium consumption in 2010 was found to be 3.95 grams per day - nearly double the two grammes recommended by the World Health Organisation.

Big cheese brands 'need to stop dragging their feet'

The big brands behind some of the UK's most popular cheeses "need to stop dragging their feet" over salt reduction, a scientist and nutrition expert has said.

Dr Kawther Hashem, from Queen Mary University of London, hit out at the food industry after the high levels of salt in some cheeses were exposed in BMJ Open.

These results provide evidence that the UK salt reduction strategy, based on a series of salt targets for different food groups, is working, but that the targets need to be much more stringent if we are to get salt intakes down to less than 6g a day (the recommended maximum).

These big brands need to stop dragging their heels and catch up with the supermarkets now, or they will be left behind.

It's worth looking at the label and choosing a lower salt and fat version of your favourite cheese, or better yet, to eat very small amounts.

Children's cheeses are often marketed as 'healthy', yet can contain at least the equivalent of 75% seawater per 100g on average - these cheeses should only be given to children occasionally, or not at all.

– Dr Kawther Hashem

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Some cheese 'contains more salt than seawater'

Some cheese contains more salt than seawater, new research has found, amid warnings about the high salt content in the majority of cheese sold in Britain.

Research published in BMJ Open found halloumi and imported blue cheese had the highest salt content, while cottage cheese had the lowest.

Imported blue cheese was said to have the highest amount of salt in it. Credit: Reuters

Large variations in salt content were found in the 612 cheeses examined - even different versions of the same cheese were found to vary.

Some types of cheddar - the most popular choice among British consumers - had much higher levels of salt than others, with supermarket own brands having lower levels than branded counterparts.

Researchers said a diet high in salt has been linked to numerous adverse affects on health including high blood pressure and an increased risk of stomach cancer and obesity.

Warning over children's salt consumption

More than a third of children's salt consumption is from breads and cereals, researchers have found.

A bacon sandwich Credit: PA Wire

Analysis of young people's diets found that they eat an "unhealthy amount of salt on a daily basis". 36% of this salt comes from cereal and bread-based products, according to the new research.

The study, published in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension, found that many children are exceeding the recommended intake of salt on a daily basis.

Rising blood pressure in kids linked to salt in food

The recommended daily intake is not more than 1,500 milligrams of salt. Credit: PA

A pattern of rising blood pressure among children and young teenagers could be linked to salt, research has suggested.

Scientists from America's prestigious Harvard Medical School found that over the course of a decade, elevated blood pressure became 27% more common in young people aged eight to 17.

Sodium from salt-laden foods is known to be linked to high blood pressure.

A key finding from the study was that children with the greatest sodium intake were 36% more at risk of raised blood pressure than those with the lowest.

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Christmas Day sugar intake is 32 teaspoons

More than half of half of people said they would follow dinner with Christmas pudding, with 23 per cent planning to have dollop of cream. Between meals, 40 per cent said they snacked on nuts and 30 per cent on crisps, both of which are often contain added salt.

A third of people will eat at least one mince pie, and over half enjoy chocolates throughout the day. Combined with overindulgence at mealtimes, sweet snacks bring the average person's Christmas day sugar intake to the equivalent of 32 teaspoons.

Full English followed by Turkey on Christmas Day

A full English breakfast will be eaten by more than one in 10 on Christmas morning, while 14 per cent will instead choose a bacon sandwich.

The average fried breakfast contains around 1,200 calories, and a bacon sandwich with brown sauce can contain more than half an adult's recommended daily salt allowance.

Almost three quarters of those surveyed said they eat a traditional turkey dinner on 25 December. The typical Christmas meal, including trimmings, adds up to 660 calories.

Same fat as a 'pack of lard' eaten on Christmas day

Christmas lunch is not the only indulgence over the festive period. Credit: Davis Davies/PA Wire/Press Association Images

The British Heart foundation has warned that the average person in Britain could consume the equivalent of half a pack of lard in saturated fat, and as much salt as would be found in 50 packets of crisps on Christmas Day.

In a survey, the charity asked 2,000 people who celebrate Christmas what they eat and drink over the festive period. For many people, the Christmas indulgence starts before the turkey is even in the oven, it found.

Government to tackle salt reduction issues

We already know too much salt can lead to conditions such as heart disease and stroke.

That is why we are taking action through the Responsibility Deal to help reduce the salt in peoples' diets.

And we are looking at clearer salt labelling on foods as part of our consultation on front of pack labelling.

We keep these findings under review alongside other emerging research in the field.

– A Department of Health spokesman
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