South Koreans Consume Fewer Carbs And More Protein: Study


While obesity continues to become more concerning across the world, South Korea has the opposite conundrum. The average amount of energy consumed by Koreans has been falling over time, revealed a new study. With changes in dietary habits, protein consumption has grown while consumption of carbohydrates has decreased.

The Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey published by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency found that the average energy intake by Koreans per day was 2,129 kcal for men and 1,576 kcal for women in 2021. This is the sixth consecutive year when caloric consumption has been on a decline.

Carbohydrate consumption is declining among Koreans as well. The percentage of carbohydrate energy consumption has decreased from 64.9 per cent in 2012 to 59.4 per cent in 2021. On the other hand, the amount of fat consumed as a percentage of total calories climbed from 20.4 per cent to 24.6 per cent. Protein accounted for 16.4 per cent of the average male energy intake and 15.5 per cent of the average female energy intake.

The figures appear to reflect a low-carb, high-fat diet that has become popular in recent years among people aiming to reduce weight or seek a better lifestyle. Between 2012 and 2021, the average daily intake of grains per person decreased from 299.1 grams to 265.9 grams, whereas the daily intake of meat consumption climbed from 113.9 grams to 123.8 grams.

The data shows why there has been a decline in Koreans’ intake of rice throughout time. The amount of rice consumed on average in Korea has been dropping recently.

Additionally, new data from Statistics Korea show that the average South Korean consumed 56.9 kg of rice last year, 0.8 kg less than the previous year’s consumption of 57.7 kg. In contrast to 1970, when the average amount of rice consumed per person was 136.5 kg, rice consumption has significantly decreased.

However, there was a 38.7 g and a 56.3 g decrease in the consumption of fruits and vegetables, respectively.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare recommended in the Dietary Reference Intakes for Koreans in 2020 that the percentage of energy intake from carbs should be between 55 per cent and 65 per cent, protein between 7 per cent and 20 per cent, and fat between 15 per cent and 30 per cent.

Based on the National Health Promotion Act, an annual survey is conducted to assess the health and nutritional status of Koreans. It is carried out on a sample size of 10,000 people, all aged above one-year-old, who are asked to recall the amount and variety of food they consumed the day before the survey.

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