October 17, 2020 08:15
Many Koreans admit they put on weight in lockdown, be it for lack of exercise or because there was simply nothing better to do than eat and watch TV.
Pollster Tillion Pro surveyed 5,016 adults, and 44 percent said they gained weight this year. Only 24 percent said they lost weight while the rest said their weight remained the same.
Those who said they gained weight were asked how many kilograms they put on. Thirty percent said more than 3 kg, 29 percent between 2 kg and 3 kg, and 28 percent 0.5 kg to 1 kg.
This was particularly marked in middle age. Some 35 percent of women in their 40s said they put on more than 3 kg, while 32 percent of men in that age group said they gained between 2 kg to 3 kg.
Data from exercise apps on Samsung smartphones offer a glimpse of the decline in exercise caused by the coronavirus epidemic.
Male users of the apps logged 49 minutes of physical activity a day on average and walked 4,854 steps from Sept. 20 to 26. But during the same period last year, they spent 56 minutes on physical activity and walked 5,180 steps. On an annual basis, that means the amount of physical activity declined by 43 hours and the number of steps walked by 118,990.
Respondents were also asked about the main cause of weight gain. Some 56 percent cited more time spent at home, 37 percent less exercise, 27 percent overeating due to stress and 21 percent more time spent watching TV. Multiple answers were allowed.
Asked if they attempted to go on a diet, 65 percent of women and 50 percent of men said yes.
Korea has the lowest obesity rate in the OECD after Japan, but the country needs to be careful as the rate of increase is steep. According to the National Health Insurance Service, 38.2 percent of people in Korea were obese in 2018. People are considered obese in Korea if their body mass index (BMI) is over 25.
The obesity rate among men has already reached 45.7 percent, and Korea has seen the number of extremely obese people with a BMI of more than 30 almost double over the last 20 years. Obesity is also on the rise among young people. According to the Education Ministry, the ratio of obese schoolkids for every 100,000 stood at 25.5 percent last year, rising about one percentage point annually.
Oh Sang-woo at Dongguk University Ilsan Hospital said, "People born before the 1970s were not exposed to excessive amounts of sugar in childhood, but those born later grew up exposed to fast food. It's encouraging to see that more Koreans are taking obesity seriously and trying to go on a diet."
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