March 09, 2015 09:06
A growing number of university students eat alone and quickly to save time as they prepare for job interviews in an increasingly tough employment market. But these eating habits are unhealthy.
A team of nutritionists led by Lee Young-mi at Gachon University surveyed 893 university students in Seoul and surrounding Gyeonggi Province and found that 70.4 percent of those who eat alone finish their meals in 15 minutes. And 8.7 percent finish their meals in less than five minutes.
Doctors recommend meals should last at least 15 to 20 minutes to let the body digest and absorb nutrients properly.
In contrast, 48.4 percent of the students who eat with friends spend 15 to 30 minutes on a meal, and 19.2 percent 30 minutes to an hour.
Only 14.3 percent of students who eat with friends spend less than 15 minutes.
When they eat alone, they tend to eat poorly (36.1 percent) and usually buy microwave meals (19.1 percent) and eat quickly (13.3 percent).
One 25-year-old student said he eats two meals alone almost every day. "I know it's not healthy, but I don't want to waste time looking for somebody to have a meal with."
"The number of people eating alone will increase in Korea as it did in the West and Japan," Lee said. "People who eat alone not only eat faster but have unbalanced meals."
Kim Hye-sook at Ajou University said, "More and more university students lack social skills after growing up in small families and suffering intense competition at school. If people prefer eating alone this may be a sign of psychological problems."
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