September 14, 2022 13:22
The obesity rate among primary and secondary schoolchildren in Seoul has increased since the surge of the COVID pandemic, and now one in five or six schoolkids has high blood pressure, fresh data suggest.
An earlier government survey found that obesity among children increased as they engaged in fewer activities and their eating habits changed in lockdown.
The new data from the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education also show that risk factors of major chronic diseases such as blood pressure, blood glucose and cholesterol levels and liver somatic index worsened.
The obesity rate among elementary schoolkids in Seoul was a whopping 19.5 percent, among middle schoolers 19.4 percent, and among high schoolers 23.6 percent last year. Some 14.3 percent of schoolchildren had high blood pressure last year, up 0.4 percentage points from 2019 -- among fourth graders the figure rose three percentage points to 18.4 percent and among seventh graders 2.5 percentage points to 15.9 percent.
"The onset of adult diseases could start in their 20s and 30s if children ignore high blood pressure and blood glucose levels," said Prof. Oh Sang-woo of Dongguk University College of Medicine. "Parents must make sure that childhood obesity does not lead to adult obesity."
The latest data are based on a sample of first through fourth graders, seventh graders, and 10th graders in Seoul.
According to blood tests of obese students, 32.6 percent of them had hyperglycemia at or above the 126 mg/dl blood sugar level, up 11.4 percentage points from 2019. A whopping 58 percent of the obese schoolchildren had hypercholesterolemia at or above the 200 mg/dl cholesterol level, up 8.4 percentage points over the same period. And 18.7 percent had a high liver somatic index, up 5.2 percentage points.
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