Hospitalised children are being fed unhealthy foods that would be banned in schools, research has claimed.
Campaigners have urged the government to remove a child nutrition loophole and ensure NHS standards are the same as in schools.
Almost half of the meals given to children in hospitals are too unhealthy for schools, with 85 out of the 189 surveyed by the Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) deemed too unhealthy for school menus.
They all exceeded the maximum school food limits for saturated fat or salt, according to the report.
Almost one in three of all items on a menu (132 of 451 surveyed) would also be classified as ‘red’ for saturated fat or salt according to the traffic light labelling scheme, the report said.
A chicken tikka masala and rice served in one hospital contained 14 times more salt and 8.5 times more saturated fat than a chicken and vegetable balti with rice served in a school.
In another example, a lasagne contained almost six times more salt than those served in schools.
Professor Graham MacGregor, of the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, said: “With everything we know about the risk of children developing high blood pressure and diet-related diseases such as obesity, it is vital to keep their consumption of salt and saturated fat as low as possible, whilst still being appetising.”