Despite the progress, 79 percent of the 81 adult meals in the study still contained more than 1,500 milligrams (mg) of sodium. A majority of Americans, including people 51 and older, people with high blood pressure, and African-Americans, should try to limit themselves to 1,500 mg of sodium per day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At higher levels, sodium promotes high blood pressure, stroke, heart attacks, kidney disease, and other health problems, making it the single most harmful ingredient in the food supply, according to CSPI. The average sodium in 55 kids' meals dropped by just 2.6 percent.
At table-service chains such as Red Lobster, Chili's, and Olive Garden, it's easy to find meals in the ballpark of 5,000 mg of sodium—more than most people should consume over the course of three days. CSPI says that these alarming levels are one reason why the Food and Drug Administration should set reasonable limits on the amounts of sodium that can be used in various categories of food.