Reducing population-level sodium intake can reduce hypertension, an important preventative strategy to lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases, the leading cause of death in the United States. Considering that most dietary sodium is derived from prepackaged foods, this study quantitatively estimates the proportion contribution and mean sodium intake from key food category contributors to total sodium intake in the US population. Data from the 2017–2018 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which collected interviewer-administered 24 h dietary recalls from Americans (n = 7081), were analyzed. Based on the average proportion contributed, the top 15 sources of sodium were identified overall and by age/sex, poverty–income and race/ethnicity. More than 50% of US population-level dietary sodium intake was contributed by: pizza (5.3%); breads, rolls and buns (4.7%); cold cuts and cured meats (4.6%); soups (4.4%); burritos and tacos (4.3%); savoury snacks (4.1%); poultry (4.0%); cheese (3.1%); pasta mixed dishes (2.9%); burgers (2.5%); meat mixed dishes (2.5%); cookies, brownies and cakes (2.4%); bacon, frankfurters and sausages (2.4%); vegetables (2.2%); and chicken nuggets (1.5%), with the results remaining consistent among population subgroups. The results identified the top sources of sodium in the American population overall, as well as in key population subgroups, which can inform policies and programs aimed at reducing sodium intake.

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This work was supported by the IAFNS Sodium in Food & Health Implications Committee.