August 18, 2015 12:50
The proportion of obese Koreans rose from 29 percent in 2002 to 31.5 percent in 2013, and the number of highly obese people hit the 550,000 mark in 2013, creating a major headache for medical services here.
The increase of highly obese people was particularly steep among those in their 20s and 30s.
The figures came from an analysis of over 100 million cases of medical checkups published by the National Health Insurance Service last week.
Obesity is defined as a body mass index of 25 or over, while the index is a person's weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters.
For highly obese people with a BMI between 30 and 34, the proportion increased 2.5 percent to 4.2 percent over the period, while the figure for extremely obese people with a BMI of 35 or over showed almost a three-fold increase from 0.17 percent to 0.49 percent.
The number of highly obese people rose 2.7 times and 2.5 times among 30- and 20-somethings but a mere 1.1 to 1.3 times among those in their 50s or over.
The cost of treating diseases related to obesity -- stroke, high blood pressure, cardiac diseases, diabetes and dyslipidemia -- also soared from W800 billion in 2002 to W3.7 trillion in 2013, the health agency said.
The high obesity rate among the young can be attributed to their addiction to fast food from childhood, said a doctor at Dongguk University's Ilsan Hospital.
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