updated 16 Apr 2014, 12:50
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K-pop hunger games
by Jocelyn Lee

An apple for breakfast, a sweet potato for lunch and a protein shake for dinner.

Those are popular female K-pop star IU's meals for a day when she had to go on a diet in October to prepare for her showbiz comeback.

The 20-year-old, who starred in the recently-aired TV romantic drama Pretty Man alongside Jang Geun Suk, shocked many when she revealed her strict diet plan on Korean variety programme Entertainment Weekly.

And IU is not the only K-pop female idol who has undergone an extreme diet in order to lose weight quickly.

Many K-pop girl group members, who are best known for their slim physiques and pretty faces, consume tiny portions of food to maintain their hot bods.

However, these meal plans have be-en criticised by netizens and fans recently.

Last week, girl group 15& member Baek Ye Rin faced a backlash when she uploaded a photo of her lunch on her Instagram account. The photo, which showed a plate containing five tiny mouthfuls of food like whole grain rice and vegetables, had the caption: "Delicious meal".

The 16-year-old singer, who debuted under top agency JYP Entertainment in 2012, drew many worried comments from fans with that picture.

K-pop fans posted their concern on Korean entertainment news website Soompi.

Soompi reader Tidbit22 wrote: "She is getting very little nutrition, and I think this will ruin her body's metabolism. How is she going to maintain her hectic schedule like this?"

Another K-pop fan Sophiu Aprevawrote said: "This is not healthy at all! She must learn to eat healthily, such as eating more fruits, and exercise more to burn more calories."

Kim Dasom, member of sexy female K-pop girl group Sistar, also revealed on a Korean variety programme last month that she eats only one meal a day to remain slim.

The 20-year-old said: "As I am a member of a girl group, I'm carrying out a severe one-meal-a-day diet. I also exercise a lot. For exercise, I usually do weights or aerobic exercise."

She added: "Truthfully, who doesn't like food? People live to eat, and eat to live."


The pretty idol said that she usually ate at 4pm so that she would not feel too hungry at night.

Fans who read about Kim's diet also expressed their concerns, saying that she is eating too little and is setting a bad example for young girls.

Netizen AC wrote: "It's setting a poor example for girls and I really hope idols can follow proper diets instead of these rapid weight loss plans. I guess they don't really have much of a choice under the pressure of the entertainment industry."

She added: "Eating one meal a day is not a diet. She's starving herself and it's not gonna do her any good in the long run."

Local undergraduate Jen Chong, 22, said: "I am very envious of the female idols' bodies, but I think it is not good to go on such an extreme diet. It's sad that they have to resort to eating so little to look good."

What experts say

"The female K-pop stars are taking in too little nutrition with the meals that they are eating. If they eat so little, their muscle mass will break down. To lose weight in a healthy way, they should eat six small meals a day, eating every three to four hours. Their meals should consist of a good balance of protein, carbohydrate and fibre such as fruits and vegetables."

- Mr Dennis Ang, Fitness First personal trainer

"It's not wise for them to reveal what they eat to the public considering it's going to lead many young girls into thinking that it's healthy to do so. They should seriously consider employing proper and certified dieticians to plan and prepare their meals which would take into consideration their Basal Metabolic Rate and daily caloric expenditure and from there, recalculate their needed daily caloric intake and prepare meals...with sufficient amounts of protein, carbs, lipids and such."

- Mr Fabian Williams, head coach of Fabian Williams Coaching Concept

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