SEOUL, July 17 (Korea Bizwire) – Korean adults look slimmer than people of other Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)member countries, but the child obesity rate in Korea is a cause for concern and turns out being above that of the OECD average.
According to an OECD report released on July 14, among the Korean adults aged over 15 the overweight rate (including that of obesity) recorded the early 4-percent level for both men and women as of 2012, second lowest after Japan among OECD countries.
The World Health Organization defines overweight for the body mass index (BMI) between 25-30 and obesity for the BMI over 30. The average OECD overweight rate aged over 15 is 18 percent. More than one in three Mexicans, New Zealanders and Americans are obese and more than one in four Australians, Canadians, Chileans and Hungarians are overweight.
For the past five years, the overweight rates in Mexico, Australia and France grew rapidly and increased modestly in Canada, Korea and Spain. The rates in the United States, the United Kingdom and Italy were stabilized.
However, the overweight rate of Korean male children aged 5 to 17 recorded 25 percent, slightly higher than the OECD average of 23 percent. That of Korean female children (20%) is below the OECD average (21%).
The high child obesity rate in Korea is blamed for their preference to Western-style fast foods like hamburger, soda and pizza.
An OECD official said, “Regulations on advertisements for the potentially harmful foods and restriction of sales of those foods near schools could be a cost-effective policy preventing obesity and chronic diseases in Korea.”
According to the OECD report, severely obese people die 8 to 10 years sooner than those with normal weight. Obesity is estimated to be responsible for 1 to 3 percent of total health expenditure in most countries and the cost will rise rapidly in coming years as obesity-related diseases set in.
Meanwhile, except Mexico and the U.S., people with less education and lower socio-economic status are likely to be more obese, which can be explained by the fact that poverty likely causes the consumption of potentially harmful foods like junk foods.
Written by John Choi (firstname.lastname@example.org)