Dangers of unbalanced diets
Half of the South Korean population is either over- or under-nourished, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 20 percent of the population either lacks essential nutrients for normal bodily functions, such as vitamins and dietary minerals, or eats too much unhealthy food. The finding shows that public knowledge about preventing diseases and promoting healthy lifestyles through a balanced diet is lacking. According to a public nutritional standards study, 48.9 percent of men and 50.5 percent of women have either 75 percent of the key nutrients they need to generate energy or more than 125 percent.
Undernourishment can weaken physical and mental health and immunity, making the body vulnerable to diseases like malaria or tuberculosis. If a woman in her 20s is undernourished during pregnancy, both the health of the mother and the child could be at risk. This can lead to a low fertility rate and premature babies. On the other hand, overindulgence leads to obesity and other diseases, which will lead to higher medical cost.
The most serious dietary imbalances are found among people in their 20s. Women in the age group were the most undernourished and men overate in energy and cholesterol rich foods. The results of the survey suggest that they were not educated on what constitutes a healthy and balanced diet during their schooldays. A public nutrition study showed that the ratio of people older than elementary school age who receive nutrition-related education or consultancy has been falling - down to 6.6 percent in 2013 from 9.2 percent in 2005.
Given the circumstances, public campaigning and support is needed to improve healthy eating and diet habits. Schools and community centers must not just provide food, but also pay equal attention to educating people on eating the right food and keeping good dietary habits to improve public health. Needless to say, preventing disease is as important as combating it in public welfare policy. Koreans must not forget the simplest fact, that good eating habits are the best way to prevent illnesses. JoongAng Ilbo, Dec. 1, Page 30