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Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2012;21(4):618-29.

South Korea's entry to the global food economy: shifts in consumption of food between 1998 and 2009.

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Korea Health Industry Development Institute, South Korea.


Korea has undergone a major opening of its food markets and economy in the past decade. Little is understood about the impact of these shifts on the diet of Koreans. This analysis studies the shifts in consumption of foods between 1998 and 2009 to provide a thorough understanding of the transition and insights into directions in the next decades in Korea. Data are from the Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (KNHANES). The sample used was a nationally representative sample of individuals age ≥2 in 1998 and 2009 (n=10,267 and 9,264, respectively). The data was corrected for seasonality, and the original raw food data was regrouped into 53 food groups. SAS was used to adjust for design effects and weight. Despite a decade of efforts to increase whole grains intake, and fruit and vegetable intake, the mean intake of whole grains increased only a small amount (16 kcal/person/day); however, the proportion consuming any whole grains doubled from 24% to 46.3%. Rice declined significantly, and several important less healthful food trends emerged: total alcohol intake increased from 39 kcal/person/day to 82 kcal/person/day. Also, energy from sugar-sweetened beverages increased among teens and energy from tea and coffee increased among adults. Remarkably, compared to other Asian countries and a general worldwide trend, vegetable intake remained relative high in South Korea during this last decade while fat energy increased modestly from relative low levels. Dynamic causes of these trends and the government's response are discussed.

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