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Teen students don’t get taller but put on more weight

Posted March. 16, 2018 08:12,   

Updated March. 16, 2018 08:12


There is a saying, “If you’re chubby as a child, you’ll grow taller later.” That does not seem to apply anymore. Over the past 10 years, teen students have put on more weight while their height remained almost the same.

The Ministry of Education conducted a basic medical examination on 80,484 elementary, middle and high school students from 767 schools from March to June last year. According to the result released Thursday, the average height of high school senior boys fell by 0.4 centimeter from 10 years ago while their average weight rose by 2.8 kilograms from 8.3 kilograms to 71 kilograms. Similar results were observed for high school senior girls as well. The average height of elementary and middle school students increased slightly by 0.11.5 centimeters from 10 years ago, but their weight rose more by 1.3-2.9 kilograms during the same period.

“Ten years ago when the country’s economy was on a path of steady growth, teen students got bigger in height and weight as they were well-nourished. But now that the country’s economic growth has stagnated and students are put in an environment where they can easily put on weight, the obesity rate among teenagers is on the rise,” Professor Park Soon-gu of Preventive Medicine at Daegu Catholic University.

The obesity rate among students grew to 17.3 percent last year from 11.2 percent in 2007. The rate was higher in rural areas than in cities. In particular, the gap between the obesity rate of elementary school girls living in cities and rural areas reached 3.8 percentage points. Usually, people from low-income families are more likely to suffer from obesity as they are less interested in managing their health.

The rate of breakfast skipping among students was higher as the students surveyed were older. The figure rose from 4.7 percent among elementary school students to 13.5 percent among middle school students, to 18.1 percent among high school students. The number of students who said they eat fast food more than once a week got higher as they got older. On the other hand, the percentage of students who eat healthy foods such as milk, dairy products and vegetables every day turned out to be low.

Ho-Kyeong Kim kimhk@donga.com