Americans exposed to saltier bread than brits

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Americans exposed to saltier bread than brits

New paper shows the US still has work to do in reducing the amount of salt in bread products 

A new report has demonstrated a surprising difference in salt content between US and UK bread products, highlighting the need for changes in policy. 

Bread makes up a sizeable part of our salt intake in the UK, contributing about a fifth of the salt in our diet. Salt puts up our blood pressure, and the UK has lead the way in changing government policy to reduce the salt that’s added to our food by food manufacturers. Over the years, the amount of salt added to bread and other manufactured foods has come down, helping to reduce our salt intake overall. 

Salt intakes in the US are far higher than the recommended maximum, and a salt-reduction strategy like that of the UK’s is needed to improve the nation’s health. Aiming to highlight an opportunity for policy makers, nutrition experts compared the salt content of bread products in the UK and the US. 

The researchers used a US and a UK database of food products to compare the nutritional content of bread products between the two countries – Label Insight for the US and FoodSwitch for the UK. By comparing 4,400 products from the US and 1,600 from the UK, they found that bread products from the US contained an average of 12% more salt. 

The researchers also found a difference in the proportion of bread product meeting the government guidelines for salt content. Fewer products from the US met the targets for maximum salt intake than from the UK. 

The paper, titled Differences in the sodium content of bread products in the USA and UK: implications for policy, won the Nutrition Society’s Paper of the Month for December 2017.    

Katharine Jenner, CEO of Blood Pressure UK, co-authored the paper. She explains: “Most of the salt we eat is hidden in foods we buy ready-made, so we don’t even know we’re eating it. Bread is a major player in putting up our salt intake and our blood pressure, and as progress in the UK has shown, there is no need for bread to be so salty. As the US develops its strategy to lower their nation’s salt intake, and with it its risk of heart disease and stroke, this paper shows that bread is an excellent, and achievable, place to start. 

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Find out more about FoodSwitch, an award-winning app that helps you find healthier alternatives to food products instantly, simply by scanning the barcode with your phone. 

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