Korea's obesity rate is the lowest among the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development member nations, according to a study of OECD health data by Bae Sung-il, a researcher at the National Health Insurance Corporation.
The nation's obesity rate was 3.5 percent as of 2005 while the average obesity rate of OECD member countries was 14.6 percent. Mexico weighs in at the top of the OECD scale with a whopping 30.2 percent obesity rate, followed by the U.K. with 23 percent, Luxembourg with 18.6 percent, Canada with 18 percent and the Czech Republic with 17 percent.
Researcher Bae said Korea's low obesity rate is attributable to the Korean diet, which is relatively high in vegetables and fruits and low in sugar and fat. In line with improving living standards and advances in medical technology, Korea's average life expectancy has increased steadily from 52.4 years in 1960 to 78.5 in 2005, which is the OECD average.
Japan boasts the longest life expectancy among the 30 OECD nations with 82 years, followed by Switzerland with 81.3 and Iceland with 81.2. Korea's infant mortality rate -- the number of infants per 1,000 who die within less than a year after birth -- has fallen sharply from 45 in 1970 to 17 in 1981 to 10 in 1991 to 5.3 in 2002. The OECD average is 6.1.