South Korea - ‘highly obese’ rate doubles in 15 years

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As the Korean economy has grown over the last few decades, so has the number of obese and highly obese people, which experts say is correlated to income levels, the JoongAng Daily reports.

In the last 15 years, the percentage of people with “extreme obesity” — defined by a body-mass index above 30 — has more than doubled to 5 percent of adults, while those considered just obese — with a BMI above 25 — rose to 32 percent, up from 26 percent in 1998, according to a study released by the Ministry of Health and Welfare.

Experts found that poor people were more likely to be obese. About 34 percent of people at the lowest income level were considered obese in 2012, compared with 29.5 percent of above-average income individuals.

“The reason poorer people are more susceptible to obesity is that they are more likely to eat junk food,” Oh Sang-woo, a doctor at Dongguk University Hospital in Ilsan, told the JoongAng Daily. “It’s a vicious cycle. They usually don’t have enough time or money to do work out, so they become more overweight

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