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Emerging new epidemics of obesity and metabolic syndrome in Korea

Dr H Baik1, Prof S Oh2
1 DMC Bundang Jesaeng Hospital, 2 Dongkuk University, College of Medicine

Emerging epidemics of obesity and metabolic syndrome have silently drawn near to us with great burden. In Korea, obesity (BMI>=25) prevalence in adults (aged>= 20 years) increased from 26.3% in 1998 to 31.1% in 2005. Prevalence of central obesity (wc>=90 cm for men, 85 cm for women) increased from 21.8% to 23.8%. The prevalence of metabolic syndrome defined by revised NCEP was estimated to be 24.4% and that by IDF to be 16.0% in 2005.

Cancer, Stroke, CVD, type 2 Diabetes are the first four major causes of death for Koreans. Using the available cohort data in Korea, we could find that all of these are closely related with obesity among Koreans. More interesting finding was that Korean younger generations showed steeper dose-dependent relationship of BMI with various obesity related co-morbidities compared to older generations.

We could find a significant positive dose-dependent association of smoking with central obesity and metabolic syndrome in Korean men in contrast to general concept. Also alcohol consumption in Koreans can increase the risks of central obesity, high blood pressure and high triglyceride. But, in the case of HDL-C, alcohol consumption reduces risks of low HDL-C in a dose-dependent manner. We could find the significant association of socioeconomic status such as family income and education level with obesity and metabolic syndrome

In conclusion, Prevalence of obesity and its metabolic complications in Korea is rapidly increasing, and prevention and management of these should become a main issue for health promotion and disease prevention for Koreans.

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