Korean Kids Grow Fatter, Less Healthy, Survey Finds

      October 29, 2010 07:25

      Youngsters are becoming more obese and unhealthy, a survey released Wednesday finds, with three out of four schoolchildren eating instant noodles and one out of two fast food at least once a week.

      According to the survey by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology of 19,400 students at 749 schools nationwide, 75.6 percent of elementary schoolchilren, 85.4 percent of middle schoolers and 77.7 percent of high schoolers eat instant noodles once a week or more.

      Also, 49.9 percent of pupils in elementary school, 56.8 percent in middle school, and 60.2 percent in high school eat fast food once or more per week.

      But only 31.7 percent of children in elementary school, 26.7 percent in middle school and 25 percent in high school said they eat vegetables every day. The proportion of students who skip breakfast increased with age, with 4.8 percent of elementary schoolchildren, 10.6 percent of middle schoolers and 14.3 percent of high schoolers.

      Youngsters generally lack exercise and sleep. Merely 1.9 percent of pupils in elementary school, 9.2 percent in middle school, and 7.4 percent in high school said they are involved in serious physical activities. As for sleep, 7.2 percent of those in primary school, 11.5 percent in middle school and 42 percent in high school said they sleep for less than six hours a day.

      The percentage of obese students who weigh 120 percent more than the standard weight for their height jumped from 11.2 percent in 2008 to 13.2 percent in 2009. The proportion of morbidly obese youngsters rose from 0.8 percent to 1.1 percent.

      But they did not grow much taller. The average height of sixth-grade boys slightly increased from 150.2 cm in 2008 to 150.5 cm, showing a flattening of the curve in recent years. "Despite the improvement in nutritional intake among younger people, the trend has entered a stagnant phase," the ministry said. The proportion of students with bad eyesight was 46.2 percent. The percentage suffering from dermatological problems went up to 3.6 percent in 2009, more than five times the 0.6 percent in 1999.

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