Effect of a balanced Korean diet on metabolic risk factors among overweight/obese Korean adults: a randomized controlled trial

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This study was to see the effects of a balanced Korean diet (BKD) on metabolic risk factors in overweight or obese Korean adults, comparing with those of a typical American diet (TAD) and a diet recommended by the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2010DGA).


The study was designed as a randomized crossover controlled trial, in which 61 overweight or obese volunteers were divided into six groups and each consumed the BKD, 2010DGA, and TAD in a random order for 4 weeks separated by 2-week washout intervals. Anthropometric indices, blood pressure, blood lipid content, fasting blood glucose, and blood insulin level were measured at the beginning and end of each diet period.


A total of 54 participants completed the trial. The BKD caused more significant reductions of body mass index (BMI) (p < 0.001), body fat percent (p < 0.001), blood total cholesterol (p < 0.001), and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (p = 0.007) compared with the 2010DGA or TAD (all p values for differences between diets < 0.05). All three diets significantly lowered blood triglyceride levels (p < 0.05). The BKD decreased high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (p = 0.001) and increased fasting blood glucose (p = 0.018), whereas TAD and 2010DGA increased HDL cholesterol and did not affect blood glucose levels. Furthermore, the BKD significantly decreased the proportion of individuals with elevated total cholesterol (p < 0.001) and LDL cholesterol (p < 0.01), whereas the 2010DGA significantly reduced the number of obese individuals (p < 0.05), and the TAD decreased the number of participants with elevated triglyceride levels (p < 0.05), but increased that of those with elevated LDL cholesterol (p < 0.05).


The Korean diet based on dietary guidelines improved metabolic risk factors such as BMI, body fat percent, and blood lipid profiles in overweight or obese Korean adults. These results provide evidence to recommend the Korean diet for preventing various metabolic diseases.

Clinical trial registration

The trial was registered at the Clinical Research Information Service (CRIS) in Korea, the primary registry of the World Health Organization (WHO) international clinical trial registry platform, under number KCT0002437.

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Fig. 1



Balanced Korean diet


Typical American diet


Diet recommended by the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans


High density lipoprotein


Low density lipoprotein


Cardiovascular disease


Body mass index


Dietary approaches to stop hypertension


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This work was supported by the Research Program for Agricultural Science and Technology Development, National Academy of Agricultural Science, Rural Development Administration (Project no. PJ013475022018).

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Correspondence to Hyojee Joung.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical standard

All human studies have been approved by the appropriate ethics committee and have, therefore, been performed in accordance with the ethical standards laid down in the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments. All persons gave their informed consent prior to their inclusion in the study.

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Kim, S., Shin, S., Ha, K. et al. Effect of a balanced Korean diet on metabolic risk factors among overweight/obese Korean adults: a randomized controlled trial. Eur J Nutr (2020) doi:10.1007/s00394-019-02141-y

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  • Balanced Korean diet
  • Metabolic risk factor
  • Randomized crossover controlled trial