SEOUL, Feb. 22 (Korea Bizwire) — The social costs of obesity in South Korea come to 9.15 trillion won (US$8.4 billion) a year, a new study said Thursday, in the latest wake-up call to tackle the growing health issue.
The 2015 figure represents a 92 percent hike from 4.76 trillion won in 2006, according to a study released by an institute controlled by the National Health Insurance Service.
The social costs cover medical expenses, lost income due to premature death, drop in economic productivity and other related expenses.
Medical expenses came to 5.38 trillion won, accounting for 58.8 percent of the 2015 social costs, according to the study.
The study called for the government to put in place a system to manage obesity in an effective manner.
The government has vowed to stage a nationwide campaign to reduce the obesity rate by encouraging people to eat more fruits and vegetables.
A third of South Koreans are obese, according to government data.
Also, some 25 percent of boys aged between 5 and 14 in South Korea suffer from obesity, compared with an average 23 percent for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development member countries, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said last year.
The percentage marked the highest among Asian countries.
Body Mass Index — a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of their height in meters — is widely used as a screening tool for being overweight or obese, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
People, whose body mass index is between 25 and less than 30, fall within the overweight range. People are considered obese if their BMI is 30 or higher, according to the CDC.