Different age groups have quite distinct diets, but each eats unhealthily in its own way, a study suggests.
People over 50 consume too much carbohydrate as they focus on rice instead of side dishes, while teenagers and 20-somethings eat too much animal fat. But people in all age groups over six years old do not get enough calcium and vitamin D.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare last Thursday released a dietary standard for nutrient intake covering 36 essential nutrients.
The ministry says people need to get 55-65 percent of essential calories from carbs, 7-20 percent from protein, and 15-30 percent from fat. But those over 50 get more than 65 percent of calories from carbs.
Prof. Son Jung-min at Wonkwang University said, "People over 50 still have a habit of eating more rice than side dishes, so they have a surplus of carbs but a fat deficiency."
They especially lack omega-6 fatty acid. Essential fatty acids are needed to make cell membranes and hormones. They are mainly found in soybeans, nuts and vegetable oils.
Those in their teens and 20s instead consume more saturated fatty acids than those in the other age groups. This means that they should cut down on processed meat like ham and sausage, marbled red meat, and fast food.
Children aged 1-11 years old need to consume less sugar. They get 14-19 percent of their calories from sugar despite World Health Organization guidelines recommending less than 10 percent.
"This is because children consume more and more processed foods with added sugar," said Chung Hyo-ji at Seoul National University. "They need to reduce consumption of carbonated drinks, juices and processed foods so that they don't get a sweet tooth."
The more carbs or sugar people consume, the more likely they are to get diabetes.
Koreans across all age groups are deficient in calcium and vitamin D because they do not consume much milk or yogurt, from which it is relatively easy to get calcium, while it is hard to absorb much calcium from grains and vegetables.
City dwellers are often deficient in vitamin D, which comes from exposure to sunlight.
Main sources of nutritional vitamin D are fish like anchovies, mackerel and mackerel pike, eggs, milk, and mushrooms. The recommended daily amount can come from a single slice of herring or salmon (60 g) a day.