A recent study has reportedly concluded that cereal and bread are major sources of dietary salt intake for children and adolescents in the United Kingdom. Naomi Marrero, et al., “Salt Intake of Children and Adolescents in South London: Consumption Levels and Dietary Sources,” Hypertension, March 2014. After analyzing the urinary sodium levels of 340 children ages 5 to 17, researchers reported that 70 percent of all participants consumed more salt than the maximum recommended amount for their age group.

In particular, the results purportedly showed that “salt intake increased with age and was also higher in boys than in girls for the 5- to 6- and 13- to 17-year age groups.” With 66 percent of the 5- to 6-year-olds, 73 percent of the 8- to 9-year-olds, and 73 percent of the 13- to 17-year-olds exceeding daily salt recommendations, the researchers also noted that cereal and cereal products contributed 36 percent of the salt in children’s diets, followed by meat products (18 percent) and milk and milk products (11 percent).

“Bread alone accounted for 15 percent of salt intake in our study population,” concluded the study’s authors. “Although many manufacturers have made significant reductions in the sodium content of their bread, a survey in 2011 showed huge variations between brands. The sodium content of the bread with the highest value was 350% higher than that of the lowest. Further reductions in the salt content of bread alone would have a major effect on salt intake.”