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Diet and nutrition in Asia Pacific - statistics & facts

Diets and nutrition throughout the Asia Pacific region have evolved and are constantly changing. This is likely due to the emergence of new food trends and nutritional information becoming more available through varying channels. The rise of vegetarianism and veganism has ricocheted across the world and has also gained traction in the region, particularly in the likes of Australia and New Zealand. Subsequently, the plant-based beverage market has increased dramatically throughout recent years. Restaurants and food chains have begun to provide plant-based alternatives to popular foods and beverages. However, given the diverse nature of the region, the plant-based diet is not yet widespread. Meat is still viewed as a luxury in certain Asia Pacific countries. The price difference between plant-based alternatives and meat is possibly a factor as to why veganism has not managed to establish itself completely across the region.

Many different factors play a role in the varying diets across the region. Religion is an aspect that can be seen as having influenced citizens’ diets. Some religions which are heavily practiced throughout the region avoid the consumption of certain animals and meats. Subsequently, many religious citizens have altered their diets according to their religious beliefs. Hinduism, which is among the most practiced religions in India, regards cows as a sacred symbol of life. Therefore, cows are not eaten. A vast share of Hindus also follow a strict vegetarian diet, opting not to consume any animal meat altogether. Islam is another religion that follows certain practices on diet and meat consumption.

Emerging dietary trends

The health and functional food market has established itself throughout the region, especially in South Korea and Japan. Consumers appear to want food and drinks which enhance mood, increase mental alertness, and aid healthy gut function. Detox drinks and drinks beneficial to the immune system have also become a popular option. Additionally, vitamin supplements and foods with added protein have experienced a surge in popularity, becoming a normality in citizens’ daily lives. Alongside health and functional food, the ready-to-drink market has developed in the Asia Pacific region. Busier work schedules often demand convenient food and drink options. Countries such as Japan have taken advantage of this consumer need and have expanded their ready-to-drink non-alcoholic beverage markets.

Effect of nutrition on health

Despite the emerging food trends, there are still citizens of the region who suffer from malnutrition and undernourishment. Alongside this, obesity has become a growing problem across the region. It is difficult to determine how diet and nutrition will evolve throughout the region in the years to come. However, governments across the region have taken steps to tackle the obesity and malnutrition problem which the region now faces. Common measures that have been introduced include reducing sugar intake by replacing traditional ingredients with healthier alternatives and providing low or sugar-free alternatives to popular food and drinks. Nevertheless, the region is still plagued with hunger and food insecurity problems. The outbreak of the coronavirus in December 2019 appeared to exacerbate these problems further, as the production and distribution of food were disrupted by the pandemic.

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Diet and nutrition in Asia Pacific

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