Consuming too much salt leads to more than 1.6 million heart disease-related deaths around the world each year, research suggests.
Scientists based the finding on an analysis of 205 surveys of sodium intake in countries representing nearly three-quarters of the world's adult population.
Effects of sodium on blood pressure and cardiovascular disease risk were determined in a separate study of pooled trial data.
The average level of sodium consumption in 2010 was found to be 3.95 grams per day - nearly double the two grammes recommended by the World Health Organisation.
The big brands behind some of the UK's most popular cheeses "need to stop dragging their feet" over salt reduction, a scientist and nutrition expert has said.
Dr Kawther Hashem, from Queen Mary University of London, hit out at the food industry after the high levels of salt in some cheeses were exposed in BMJ Open.
Some cheese contains more salt than seawater, new research has found, amid warnings about the high salt content in the majority of cheese sold in Britain.
Research published in BMJ Open found halloumi and imported blue cheese had the highest salt content, while cottage cheese had the lowest.
Large variations in salt content were found in the 612 cheeses examined - even different versions of the same cheese were found to vary.
Some types of cheddar - the most popular choice among British consumers - had much higher levels of salt than others, with supermarket own brands having lower levels than branded counterparts.
Researchers said a diet high in salt has been linked to numerous adverse affects on health including high blood pressure and an increased risk of stomach cancer and obesity.
More than a third of children's salt consumption is from breads and cereals, researchers have found.
Analysis of young people's diets found that they eat an "unhealthy amount of salt on a daily basis". 36% of this salt comes from cereal and bread-based products, according to the new research.
The study, published in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension, found that many children are exceeding the recommended intake of salt on a daily basis.
A pattern of rising blood pressure among children and young teenagers could be linked to salt, research has suggested.
Scientists from America's prestigious Harvard Medical School found that over the course of a decade, elevated blood pressure became 27% more common in young people aged eight to 17.
Sodium from salt-laden foods is known to be linked to high blood pressure.
A key finding from the study was that children with the greatest sodium intake were 36% more at risk of raised blood pressure than those with the lowest.
More than half of half of people said they would follow dinner with Christmas pudding, with 23 per cent planning to have dollop of cream. Between meals, 40 per cent said they snacked on nuts and 30 per cent on crisps, both of which are often contain added salt.
A third of people will eat at least one mince pie, and over half enjoy chocolates throughout the day. Combined with overindulgence at mealtimes, sweet snacks bring the average person's Christmas day sugar intake to the equivalent of 32 teaspoons.
A full English breakfast will be eaten by more than one in 10 on Christmas morning, while 14 per cent will instead choose a bacon sandwich.
The average fried breakfast contains around 1,200 calories, and a bacon sandwich with brown sauce can contain more than half an adult's recommended daily salt allowance.
Almost three quarters of those surveyed said they eat a traditional turkey dinner on 25 December. The typical Christmas meal, including trimmings, adds up to 660 calories.
The British Heart foundation has warned that the average person in Britain could consume the equivalent of half a pack of lard in saturated fat, and as much salt as would be found in 50 packets of crisps on Christmas Day.
In a survey, the charity asked 2,000 people who celebrate Christmas what they eat and drink over the festive period. For many people, the Christmas indulgence starts before the turkey is even in the oven, it found.