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[Opinion] Young and Overweight

Posted March. 29, 2005 22:44,   


Mr. Chung Chan-min, a 28-year old ordinary office worker, succeeded in slimming down by 52 kg (from 130 kg to 78 kg) through a one-year diet. Chung publicized his success story in a book titled: “Who took my fats?” (by Dong-a Ilbo) earlier this year. The book offers a vivid description of episodes that he had to go through as a “fatty,” his strenuous diet efforts and the “new world” that played out before him after he succeeded in his weigh loss program.

However, Chung’s success is a rare case. Most give up diets halfway. They repeat the pattern of giving up and restarting. It is the diet industry that reaps the benefits in the process. That is evident from the fact that you can see an endless list of websites when you enter the word “obesity” or “diet” on an Internet search engine. The notably increasing number of gyms opening up in every neighborhood also testifies to this phenomenon.

It is said that obese population in their 20s and 30s has significantly grown. The obese population quadrupled to 32.3 percent of the total 20-something population in 2000 from 8.1 percent in 1992. Obese people in their 30s almost doubled in the same period, to 35.1 percent from 18.8 percent. In other words, roughly one out of three Koreans is “young fatty.” It is hard to simply blame improved nutrition in this matter. Rather, it may be attributable to a large part to lazy lifestyles and a lack of self-discipline in the young generation.

Chung says in his book, “Dieting means not just losing weight, but also healing the scars of your heart and laziness in your soul.” He studied English every morning to secure some time to exercise. He transformed himself into a man who cleans his home as frequently as four times a week from one who hardly did so even once a month. He also learned how to control his emotions while running on treadmill. Chung’s case illustrates that dieting is not something to show others. The genuine meaning of dieting may be healing an unhealthy mind by correcting the distorted body.

Song Moon-hong, Editorial Writer, songmh@donga.com