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No Change in Sodium Content of Ready Food From '05 to '11

And, meals at sit-down restaurants have nearly a full day's worth of fat, more than a day's sodium

MONDAY, May 13 (HealthDay News) -- From 2005 to 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, Ph.D., from the George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C., 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 to 2011 there was about a 3.5 percent decrease in the sodium content of 402 processed foods, while the sodium content of 78 fast-food restaurant products increased by 2.6 percent. 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 percent of the recommended daily allowance of sodium (2,269 mg), with more than 80 percent of the meals exceeding the daily adequate intake level (1,500 mg) and more than 50 percent exceeding the daily upper tolerable intake level (2,300 mg). Only 1 percent of meals had a "healthy level" of less than 600 mg. On average, meals contained 89 percent of the daily value for fat, with almost 50 percent 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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