By Yun Suh-young
The more salt you intake, the bigger you get.
A recent study by the Ministry of Health and Welfare and Dongguk University Medical Center showed that higher sodium consumption increased the risk of obesity in both adults and teenagers and the correlation between the two was much higher for adolescents.
The data for the study on the relationship between salty food and obesity had been collected since 2008 through national health and nutrition surveys.
For adults, the risk of becoming obese was 20 percent higher for those who ranked in the top 20 percent in terms of eating salty foods. For adolescents, the risk of obesity was 80 percent higher for those who ate lots of salty food.
"This is the first time that a data analysis was conducted in the country on the correlation between sodium and obesity", said an official from the health ministry.
According to the study, the amount of sodium Korean people consumed over the past four years has increased consistently throughout the years. In 2010, the sodium consumption per citizen per day reached 4,878 milligrams, up from 4,553 in 2008. The World Health Organization's recommended amount of sodium consumption per person a day is 2,000 milligrams.
Actually the average Korean dining table is filled with salty food.
Salty dishes in descending order are Kimchi, any soup or stew, seafood, side dishes, noodles, and seasoned vegetables.
"Since the correlation between salty food and obesity was detected independently from the amount of calories consumed, it will be important not just to reduce calorie intake but also to eat less salt", said Oh Sang-woo, professor at the Department of Family Medicine at Dongguk University Medical Center.
"The risk of obesity is higher for teenagers. Since eating habits formed while young tend to last a lifetime, it is necessary that they habitually eat fewer salty foods".
In order to raise awareness about sodium consumption, the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the Korea Food and Drug Administration launched a campaign in March to reduce the consumption rate by over 20 percent by 2020.
They plan to make it compulsory for restaurants and rest areas to indicate nutritional facts as well as expand the number of restaurants participating in the sodium reduction campaign so they can be designated "healthy" restaurants. For students, they plan to provide low-sodium meals at school.
Source : www.koreatimes.co.kr/... ( English Korean )
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