The Common Lunchbox Items With Nearly All Our Daily Salt Intake

It's sparked a new campaign.

29 January 2018

Article heading image for The Common Lunchbox Items With Nearly All Our Daily Salt Intake


  • The Heart Foundation and VicHealth are urging parents to check the nutritional content of items to see whether they're high in salt
  • Recent studies have found Australian men are eating twice the recommended daily dose of salt, women only slightly behind
  • Many common school lunchbox foods contain a high level of salt
  • Sandwiches have been named as the worst offender due to high sodium spreads and processed meats
  • Dieticians say there's no need to ditch sandwiches, but replace fillings with lower salt alternatives like roast chicken or avocado

A new study has found some school lunchbox staples contain a worrying amount of salt, prompting a call from health experts for a government crackdown to curb the risk of serious health problems like high blood pressure, heart disease and strokes in adulthood.

The Heart Foundation has joined forces with VicHealth to launch the Unpack The Salt campaign, raising awareness of the many processed foods often added to lunchboxes which contain a shocking amount of sodium.

Sandwiches were named as the worst offender.

"What was most surprising was that a ham and cheese sandwich with white bread on butter contained nearly the whole salt allowance for a young school child between four and eight," said dietician Sian Armstrong. "In general it's probably the processed meat, so the ham that was blowing the salt content out of the water."

Ms. Armstrong says there are easy ways for concerned parents to reduce their child's salt intake by replacing processed meat with roast chicken, avocado or egg.

"We're not telling Australian parents not to put sandwiches in their children's lunchboxes, we just want them to have a think about what the filling going into those sandwiches are."

Fruit muffins, dips, instant noodles and baked beans were some of the other common items listed as the worst offenders.

Health advocates are also encouraging the federal government to adopt reduction targets like the United Kingdom, which would force companies to rethink their recipes.


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