(HealthDay News) – From 2005–2011, there was no significant change in the sodium content of processed and fast-food restaurant foods; and on average, meals at sit-down restaurants (SDRs) contain more than a full day’s worth of sodium, according to two studies published online May 13 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Michael F. Jacobson, PhD, from the George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, DC, and colleagues compared the mean levels of sodium for identical processed and fast-food restaurant foods in 2005, 2008, and 2011. The researchers found that from 2005–2011 there was about a 3.5% decrease in the sodium content of 402 processed foods, while the sodium content of 78 fast-food restaurant products increased by 2.6%. During the study period there were no statistically significant changes in sodium content.

Mary J. Scourboutakos, from the University of Toronto, and colleagues analyzed the nutritional profile of breakfast, lunch, and dinner meals from 19 chain SDRs. The researchers found that, on average, meals contained 1,128 calories. On average, meals contained 151% of the recommended daily allowance of sodium (2,269mg), with >80% of the meals exceeding the daily adequate intake level (1,500mg) and >50% exceeding the daily upper tolerable intake level (2,300mg). Only 1% of meals had a “healthy level” of <600mg. On average, meals contained 89% of the daily value for fat, with almost 50% of meals exceeding the daily value for fat.

“Addressing the nutritional profile of restaurant meals should be a major public health priority,” Scourboutakos and colleagues write.

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