March 29, 2010 11:05
Five areas in Gangwon Province ranked among the top 10 most obese regions in the country in a study by the National Health Insurance Corporation.
In the study of data from 9.88 million people who had checkups in 2008, Dong District in Ulsan topped the list with 43 percent of its residents overweight, followed by Yanggu in Gangwon Province with 42 percent.
Four other areas in the Gangwon Province recorded obesity rates of over 40 percent: Inje (3rd place), Yeongwol (5th), Yangyang (7th), and Cheolwon (9th).
Of the 230 administrative areas nationwide, Gangnam and Seocho districts in Seoul ranked the lowest with 28 percent.
According to the NHIC standard, a person is considered overweight when their body mass index, calculated by dividing their weight by the square of their height, is over 25.
It is a paradox that Gangwon Province has such high levels of obesity as it is a rural area whose residents likely consume less fatty foods and move around more than their urban counterparts. But the province also recorded the highest obesity rate in a survey conducted in September to November of last year by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This may be due to the area's high proportion of senior citizens, whose diets are rich in carbohydrates and who are relatively indifferent to maintaining their figures, an official at a community health center in Yanggu said.
Prof. Han Sung-nim of Seoul National University said, "During the leisure season, farmers become less active. So if they eat carb-heavy foods such as sweet potatoes, potatoes and corn, their neutral fat will increase, leading to the accumulation of subcutaneous fat."
Another possible factor is the area's high drinking rate. In the CDCP survey, Gangwon Province recorded the largest proportion of high-risk drinkers, with 20.7 percent of its residents consuming at least seven cups of alcohol two or more times over the previous 12 months.
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