SEOUL, Mar. 27 (Korea Bizwire) — The obesity rate for young South Korean students swelled to 25 percent last year from 21.2 percent in 2014, marking the fifth straight annual increase, the Ministry of Education said Wednesday.
The overall health statistics of elementary, middle and high school students were also found to have deteriorated in recent years, as youths have reduced exercise and sleep and increased consumption of fast food, the ministry said, citing a recent study of physical health.
The ministry said its annual study was compiled from a health survey of about 108,000 students at 1,023 elementary and secondary schools nationwide and health examinations of 34,862 students.
The study found an increasing number of students skip breakfast and prefer to eat fast food and instant noodles, like ramyeon.
The portion of high, middle and elementary school students who skip breakfast rose to 19.69 percent, 16.23 percent and 6.07 percent, respectively, all marking the fourth consecutive annual increase.
Only 22.79 percent of high schoolers eat vegetables daily, while 24.9 percent of middle schoolers, and 28.87 percent of elementary pupils, do so, the study showed.
In a similar vein, 80.54 percent of high schoolers, 77.66 percent of middle schoolers and 65.98 percent of elementary students eat fast food once a week.
The young students’ average height has changed little over the recent five years, except for middle school students, whose average stature grew for the third straight year.
Only 23.6 percent of high school students do exercise that is strenuous enough to break a sweat or leave them short of breath more than three days a week.
About 44 percent of high schoolers sleep less than six hours per night, with the corresponding rates for elementary and middle school students standing at 3.06 percent and 13.57 percent, respectively.
About 54 percent of the students have a visual acuity of 0.7 or less, a level considered abnormal, the study found.
It said 75.39 percent of first year high school students have abnormal binocular vision and require glasses, while 65.69 percent of first year middle school students and 48.07 percent of fourth year elementary students need glasses.