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Eating up to a few every day kimchi servings could reduce obesity risk in men

Eating up to a few every day servings of the Korean classic, kimchi, may lower men’s overall risk of obesity, while radish kimchi is linked to a lower prevalence of midriff bulge in each sexes, finds research published within the open access journal BMJ Open.

Kimchi is made by salting and fermenting vegetables with various flavorings and seasonings, resembling onion, garlic, and fish sauce. 

Cabbage and radish are often the essential vegetables utilized in kimchi, which accommodates few calories and is wealthy in dietary fibre, microbiome enhancing lactic acid bacteria, vitamins, and polyphenols.

Previously published experimental studies have shown that Lactobacillus brevis and L. plantarum isolated from kimchi had an anti-obesity effect. And the researchers desired to know if regular consumption could be related to a discount in the danger of overall and/or abdominal obesity, which is taken into account to be particularly harmful to health.

They drew on data from 115,726 participants (36,756 men; 78,970 women; average age 51) participating within the Health Examinees (HEXA) study.

HEXA is a big, community-based long-term study of the larger Korean Genome and Epidemiology Study, designed to look at environmental and genetic risk aspects for common long-term conditions amongst Korean adults over the age of 40.

Dietary intake for the previous 12 months was assessed using a validated 106-item food frequency questionnaire for which participants were asked to state how often they ate a serving of every foodstuff, from never or seldom, as much as 3 times a day.

Total kimchi included baechu (cabbage kimchi); kkakdugi (radish kimchi); nabak and dongchimi (watery kimchi); and others, resembling mustard greens kimchi. A portion of baechu or kkahdugi kimchi is 50 g, while a portion of nabak or dongchimi kimchi is 95 g.

Height and weight, for BMI, and waist circumference were measured for every participant. A BMI of 18.5 was defined as underweight; normal weight 18.5 to 25; and obesity as above 25. 

Abdominal obesity was defined as a waist circumference of a minimum of 90 cm for men and a minimum of 85 cm for ladies. Some 36% of the lads and 25% of the ladies were obese.

The outcomes indicated a J-shaped curve, possibly because higher consumption is related to higher intake of total energy, carbohydrates, protein, fat, sodium and cooked rice, say the researchers.

Compared with those that ate lower than 1 every day serving of total kimchi, participants who ate 5 or more servings weighed more, had a bigger waist size, and were more prone to be obese. They were also more prone to not be highly educated, have a low income, and to drink alcohol.

But after accounting for potentially influential aspects, eating as much as 3 every day servings of total kimchi was related to an 11% lower prevalence of obesity compared with lower than 1 every day serving.

In men, 3 or more every day servings of baechu kimchi were related to a ten% lower prevalence of obesity and a ten% lower prevalence of abdominal obesity compared with lower than 1 every day serving. 

In women, 2-3 every day servings of one of these kimchi were related to an 8% lower prevalence of obesity, while 1–2 servings/day were related to a 6% lower prevalence of abdominal obesity. 

And eating below average quantities of kkakdugi kimchi was related to around a 9% lower prevalence of obesity in each sexes. And consumption of 25 g/day for men and 11 g/day for ladies was related to an 8% (men) to 11% (women) lower risk of abdominal obesity compared with no consumption.

That is an observational study, and as such, cannot establish cause. And the researchers acknowledge that food frequency questionnaires cannot at all times accurately discover quantities, added to which the findings might not be generalizable to populations elsewhere on the planet.

In addition they note concerns that kimchi accommodates salt, high quantities of which are not good for overall health, although the potassium present in the fermented vegetables may help to counteract this, they suggest.

They caution: “Since all results observed a ‘J-shaped’ association, excessive consumption suggests the potential for a rise in obesity prevalence. And as kimchi is certainly one of the key sources of sodium intake, a moderate amount must be advisable for the health advantages of its other components.”


Journal reference:

Jung, H., et al. (2024). Association between kimchi consumption and obesity based on BMI and abdominal obesity in Korean adults: a cross-sectional evaluation of the Health Examinees study. BMJ Open. doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2023-076650.

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