Most Koreans Overanxious About Their Health

  • By Hong Jun-ki

    July 13, 2018 12:02

    Koreans' overall health index is good but about two-thirds of them think they are unhealthy, according to a report.

    Based on an analysis of OECD data from 2016, the report shows that Korea's proportion of overweight and obese people, smokers and per-capita alcohol consumption were lower than, or similar to, the OECD average.

    The proportion of overweight and obese Koreans stood at just 34.5 percent, much lower than the OECD average of 58.1 percent and the second lowest after Japan's 25.4 percent. The proportion of Koreans who smoked every day stood at 18.4 percent, slightly lower than the OECD average of 18.5 percent.

    The Ministry of Health and Welfare said, "Some 32.9 percent of Korean men smoked, a little higher than the OECD average of 23 percent. But that was 8.7 percentage points lower than five years earlier."

    Each Korean consumed 8.7 liters of alcohol, roughly the OECD average of 8.8 liters.

    Life expectancy at birth was 82.4 years, 1.6 years longer than the OECD average. Korea's life expectancy is continuously increasing as in most advanced countries except the U.S.

    The number of cancer deaths per 100,000 people was also lower than the OECD average at 168.4 to 201.9.

    Yet only 32.5 percent of Koreans thought they were healthy, far fewer than the OECD average of 68.3 percent. The Japanese were equally gloomy, with only 35.5 percent feeling healthy despite a life expectancy of 84.1 years.

    "That's probably because it's a characteristic of Asians to answer subjective questions diffidently," a ministry official said. "In Korea's case many people seem to think they're unhealthy because they're bombarded with health information from TV and the Internet."

    Korea's suicide rate was the highest in the OECD with 25.8 per 100,000 people in 2015, more than double the average of 11.6, though it fell substantially from 33.3 in 2011.

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