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Poor diet among Koreans leading cause of chronic illnesses
  • By Marian Chu
  • Published 2018.01.15 18:45
  • Updated 2018.01.15 18:54
  • comments 0

The number of chronic illnesses such as cancer and cardiovascular disease has been rising, and poor diet is playing a prominent role, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said Friday.

The KCDC released its Public Health Weekly Report that benchmarked the intake of 13 foods and nutrients by Korean adults against standards set by the World Health Organization, in its "Global Burden of Disease Study 2015."

Koreans eat too much red and processed meat and sugary drinks but not enough nuts and grains, calcium, fruits, and vegetables, according to the KCDC.

“Diet is the most important contributor to chronic diseases,” the KCDC outlined in its report. “Proper intervention is needed to properly consume 14 foods and nutrients for chronic disease prevention, which first requires understanding how much Korean adults are consuming and how their dietary behavior is changing.”

According to the results, Koreans took in around one-fifth of the WHO-recommended amount of whole grains (100 to 150 grams) with males eating 17.6 grams of whole grains and women eating 16.5 grams each day.

Source: KCDC

Milk intake was equally low with males drinking around 53 grams of milk and women drinking 55 grams daily, compared to 350 to 520 grams suggested by the WHO.

As for fruits, women consumed an average of 215 grams per day, barely satisfying the WHO standard of 200 to 300 grams per day while men ate a little less, with around 177 grams per day.

Sub-analysis also showed younger people ate less fruit than the elderly, with males aged 25 to 44 years old eating 147 grams of fruit per day, and females in the same age bracket eating 185 grams per day.

As for vegetables, people are eating more of them but not enough. Vegetable intake among males stood at 263 grams per day and 220 grams for females. The WHO recommends 340 to 500 grams per day.

The survey also measured how much people were consuming red and processed meat, sugary drinks, and sodium – all of which are to be eaten moderately, if at all. Of the four items, red meat and sugar-sweetened drink intake significantly exceeded WHO recommendations.

Results showed males ate around 9 grams of processed meat while women ate 6.5 grams daily, surpassing WHO-recommendations of zero to 4 grams a day. Processed meat intake has also increased about 70 percent since 2007 for both sexes, with consumption increasing by 190 percent for those in the 45 to 74-year-old age bracket.

As for red meat consumption, males had around 75 grams each day and women 47 grams, which also exceeded WHO guidelines of 18 to 27 grams per day.

The intake of sugary drinks also grew each year explosively. Men drank around 300 grams each day while women drank 200 grams, as opposed to the recommended zero to 5 grams a day, the survey showed.

Koreans met WHO’s recommendations by matching the minimum intake of dietary fiber, omega-3 fatty acids from seafood, and polyunsaturated fatty acids from vegetable oils, the report on 41,656 Korean adults between 25 and 74 years of age from 2007 to 2015 said.


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