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Study: Korean Children Getting Heavier

Posted May. 12, 2006 02:59,   


Obesity in children and adolescents was found to have reached a serious level, calling for swift measures for it.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDCP) under the Ministry of Health and Welfare commissioned the Korean Association of Pediatric Surgeons to conduct nationwide research on the physical development of 146,196 children aged from 0 to 20, from March to November of last year. The research found that the number of obese children and adolescents increased significantly.

The Korean government did the research for the fifth time after it was first conducted in 1965, followed by 1975, 1985 and 1998.

According to the result of the study this paper acquired on May 11, the increase in weight was noteworthy for seniors of elementary school and middle school students. Male students aged 13 and female aged 11 showed the biggest increase in weight, especially 13-year-old boys who weighed as much as 9.6kg more than their counterparts eight years ago in 1998.

The obesity rate exceeded 10 percent in almost all the ages and both sexes over the age of seven. In all ages between 7-20, the rate for boys was over 10 percent. For girls, the ages the rate was below 10 percent were only 7, 11, 18 and 20.

Ten-year-old boys showed the highest rate, 17.6 percent, meaning two out of 10 are obese, and for women, the age was 17 with a rate of 14.8 percent.

In addition, the obesity rate for children below the age of six was between 2.2 and 9.9 percent, a huge increase from the 1.0 to 5.3 percent eight years ago. In particular, the rate rose more than twice between ages and months in this age range in some cases. Experts say the obesity rate for infants and children was closely related to whether they were breast-fed or not.

Meanwhile, the increase in their height far lagged behind the increase in the weight.

Comparing to the results of the study eight years ago, the age when boys got to 150cm was 11.7, a 0.7-year decrease from 1998, and 12.9 for girls, a 0.8-year decrease. But boys reached 50kg as fast as 1.3 years earlier, and girls one year earlier, respectively, than their counterparts eight years ago.

Their average heights showed not that much difference from eight years ago. The scope of the increase in the average heights was significant at the ages of 7-14 for males and 7-11 for females, but it gradually narrowed, marking only 0.9cm and 0.8cm increases at the age of 20 respectively, compared to eight years ago.

Experts warn that the sharp rise in the obesity rate of children and adolescents could lead to adult diseases in their early ages.

The KCDCP is considering a revision to the index of standard sizes for Korean children and teenagers, based on the result of the recent study.

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