SEOUL, May 29 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s young women are increasingly becoming either overweight or underweight, while men are gaining in abdominal obesity, a medical report said Monday.
The research results showed that among women in their 20s and 30s, prevalence for becoming underweight increased from 8.8 percent in 1998 to 14 percent in 2012. Prevalence for becoming overweight also increased from 1.9 percent to 4.3 percent during the period.
The findings were based on five separate national health and nutritional surveys conducted between 1998 and 2012 that cover 19,218 adults aged 19-39 (8,366 men and 10,852 women). They were published in the latest edition of the medical journal Obesity Research & Clinical Practice.
One of the stark findings was that young women became more extreme in their weights, either over or under the desired weight. According to the report, women in the studied age group were 1.7 times more at risk of becoming obese compared with 1998 and 2.3 times more at risk of becoming too thin.
In the case of men, prevalence for obesity grew from 2.3 percent to 14.4 percent. Prevalence for abdominal obesity increased even more, from 6.6 percent to 21.1 percent. Unlike women, however, prevalence for becoming underweight fell from 4.5 percent to 3.2 percent.
Park Hye-soon and Lim Ji-sun, the authors of the report, said the phenomenon has largely to do with dietary patterns and people’s lifestyles. For men, 35.1 percent were consuming excess calorie energy in 2012 compared with 27.6 percent in 1998. For women, the number dropped from 25.8 percent to 19.8 percent.
Both men and women were not exercising enough, and they were drinking much more alcohol than before, they said.
Park cited the dangers of adult obesity: how it can weaken parasympathetic nerves, cause problems with the autonomic nervous system and increase the risks of cardiovascular diseases. Even when in the normal weight range, excessive fat in the body’s middle areas can increase chances of cardiovascular diseases, she said.
“The report affirms that young women who are slim are shedding weight to become thinner,” Lim said. “But being underweight lowers bone density and weaken’s immunity that can causes other complications.”