Salt content of ready meals commonly consumed by older people

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It is well documented that blood pressure increases with age and is commonly related to sodium intake (Intersalt, 1988). In an earlier study, McCabe & Thomas (2007) suggested that frequent use of ready meals among single elderly men may be associated with higher intakes of fat and salt. Ready meals are increasingly popular in the UK, accounting for some £2.38bn of food expenditure and consequently the salt content of those commonly used by older people is of considerable interest from a public health perspective. Methods: 

Eighty people aged over 65 years (20 male, 60 female) attending three Age Concern centres in London were interviewed concerning their eating habits and use of ready meals. From this information, the 20 most popular types of ready meals were identified. Packaging information was then collected, concerning the portion weight, salt and energy content of these ready meal dishes as provided by 10 different manufacturers. Results: 

Portion sizes varied widely. Table 1 shows salt per serving, salt per 100 g and mean g salt per serving as % of the recommended daily maximum RDM (6 g salt). Discussion: 

Although all ready meals met the Joint Sodium Working Party limit of 0.9–1.0 g salt per 100 g, the large portion sizes of some individual meals resulted in salt content approaching the recommended daily maximum. Conclusions: 

Use of ready meals is popular among older people, but salt content per meal is a matter of concern and needs to be considered when making healthier choices. References 

McCabe & Thomas, J. (2007) Eating patterns and diets of elderly men living alone: a pilot study. J. Hum. Nutr. Diet.20, 372(Abstract).

Intersalt Cooperative Research Group. (1988) Intersalt: an international study of electrolyte excretion and blood pressure. Results for 24-hour urinary sodium and potassium. BMJ297, 319–328.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: August 1, 2008

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