Draft:Obesity in South Korea

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There is a series of short passages copied from sources. These need to be restated in your own words. The topic is notable and the structure is well done. Legacypac (talk) 04:46, 21 November 2018 (UTC)

  • Symbol opinion vote.svg Comment: To answer your question tealdrizzle, I would get rid of all the photos except for maybe the Mukbang video. I think that one is relevant to the topic at hand. I'm nervous about the rights for that video, but if it is Creative Commons, it should be OK.

In all, I think the article looks good. If I were you, I'd take a look at WP:NOTESSAY and WP:NPOV to make sure that it doesn't sound like a personal essay or that you aren't adding your own personal thoughts on Obesity in South Korea. That being said, I think this is very well written so far. Bkissin (talk) 23:50, 16 October 2018 (UTC)

South Korea has one of the lowest obesity rates among countries in the OCED economy.
South Korea obesity rates by age group

Obesity in South Korea is a health concern that affects 5.3% of the entire nation's population, which is approximately 2.7 million people out of 51 million citizens.[1] The number of Koreans impacted by obesity has increased steadily over the years since the early 2000s with 4% of the adult population reported to be obese and 30% considered as overweight.[2] Over the next ten years, OCED predicts that the overweight rate of the adult population will increase by 5%.[3] Type 2 diabetes and hypertension are among the closely related health issues to obesity found in Koreans. It is also found that obesity is strongly linked with ischemic heart disease and stroke.[4] The positive correlation between obesity and various health diseases makes this issue a concern for the South Korean government.


The capital city of South Korea, Seoul, is located at the northern region. 1 in 4 Seoul citizens are struggling with the health issue of obesity.

South Korea is a densely populated country with approximately 51 million citizens in total, with a staggering 25.6 million population in the capital city of Seoul.[5][6] In 2013, the Seoul Metropolitan Government reported that 1 in 4 Seoul citizens face the health issue of obesity.[7] Among the OCED member countries, South Korea has one of the lowest obesity rates.

Low-income Koreans appear to be more prone to obesity. In 2013, the number of obese Koreans who belong to the poorest 17% of the population accounted for 4.9% of all Koreans.[8] Back in 2002, this number was only 2.5% of the entire population, which have almost doubled since then.[9] Studies have shown that limited resources and lack of access to healthy, affordable food and high levels of stress make those with low-income vulnerable to obesity.[10]

The socioeconomic cost of obesity and overweight people in Korea has reached 1.8 trillion Korean won[11].


In 2013, it was reported that obesity among Korean children and adolescents increased from 6.8% to 10.0% in a span of 15 years.[12] There appears to be a strong correlation between obesity rates and socioeconomic status. According to the Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (KNHANES), obesity rates are higher among Korean children and adolescents who are from lower socioeconomic backgrounds compared to those from higher socioeconomic backgrounds.[13]

The National Health and Nutrition Survey recommends that attention should be focused on adolescents in middle to high school as they are undergoing a period of significant hormonal transition.[14] This group of people are mainly students who are busy preparing for the national entrance examinations. The national entrance examination, Suneung, which is a college scholastic ability test, plays a vital role in determining one's future. The exam preparation starts from kindergarten all the way up till senior year of high school, with the aim of scoring well and gaining admission to one of the country’s top universities - Seoul National University, Korea University, or Yonsei University.[15] During this hectic period that is filled with high levels of stress, students are prone to having a lack of physical activity or well-balanced diet, which can lead to obesity.

Contributing factors[edit]

Food culture[edit]

South Korea has a unique food culture due to its long agricultural history. Historically, Korean meals are served with bap (cooked rice), kuk (dishes with broth), kimchi, and banchan (side dishes) to be consumed at the same time.[16] Unlike the common Western cooking methods of baking and frying, traditional Korean cooking methods are fermenting, seasoning, pickling, boiling, and blanching.[17] As fermentation is the most prevalent cooking method, the average Korean diet consists of a high intake of sodium that contributes to obesity among children and adolescents.[18]

Mukbang videos[edit]

Popular mukbanger named 'Jangpa' live streaming himself devouring pork belly and octopus, while viewers post interactive comments at the side.

According to the South Korean Government, the increasing popularity of mukbang has contributed to the growth of obesity in the nation.[19] Mukbang (pronounced "mook-bong") translates to “eating broadcast” in South Korea, where professional mukbangers can make up to $9,000 a month just by binge eating for a 60-minute period to thousands of online viewers.[20] The most notorious example is the TV program Delicious Guys, where four comedians who are notably overweight, gorge upon several courses in one sitting.[21] The allure of the program is in watching these four comedians eat for hours on end while making the audience laugh. However, it is not just the Delicious Guys participating in this Mukbang phenomenon, in fact these programs are everywhere. The craze of watching strangers binge-eat has been well-documented on several live streaming platforms.

Processed food[edit]

Shin Ramyeon is the highest selling instant noodle brand in South Korea, which contributed to the fast-food or binge eating culture.

The accessibility and convenience of processed food led obesity in South Korea to be more prevalent among those with low incomes.[22] Processed food is much less expensive compared to buying healthy fresh produce. [23] Created in the early 1960, ramyeon (Korean instant noodles) became the most popular instant food in South Korea due to many Koreans who were increasingly finding themselves money-rich and time-poor.[24] Commonly confused with the Japanese ramen, ramyeon is noodles in spicy broth. Not having any instantly available food, ramyeon immediately filled the niche in the market when it was first manufactured and sold at that time.[25]

Alcohol intake[edit]

Soju is the most common and popular alcohol in South Korea, in which its consumption has shown a positive correlation with obesity.

Known for its culture of binge drinking, South Korea's alcohol consumption is deemed as a daily social norm to get ahead in business and viewed as a way of relieving stress. A report released by Euromonitor in 2014, a London-based market intelligence firm, showed that Koreans drink up to 13.7 shots of liquor per week on average[26]. This makes South Korea one of the highest alcohol consumption countries in the world, beating Russia and Germany[27]. Alcohol consumption in South Korea’s is driven by the country’s love for a certain fermented rice spirit called Soju. According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, it is estimated that alcohol related social costs in South Korea amounts up to $20billion a year[28]. This problem deepens further due to the fact that there is no law restricting binge drinking in the country.

Educational Stress[edit]

In 2017, a report by the Korean Education Ministry showed that the percentage of overweight students (aged 6 to 18) has increased from 11.2% to 17.3% in a span of 10 years.[29] As mentioned earlier, the high levels of stress on Korean students to excel on the national entrance examination, Suneung, has led to sleep deprivation and physical inactivity due to excessive studying.

During this period, it is challenging for students to maintain a healthy diet as they tend to skip breakfast and consume more fast food to accommodate their hectic schedule. Moreover, a survey on 9,521 students done by the National Youth Policy Institute showed that most students on average only get about 5.5 hours of sleep every night[30]. A typical student's daily schedule consists of 12 hours spent on studying - with 8 hours spent at school during the day, and another few additional hours spent on attending hagwon classes (private tutoring), followed by 'self-study' back at school for another 2 hours or so[31]. This studying cycle repeats again the following day throughout the weekdays, and does not stop completely during the weekends. Therefore, the culture of excessive studying combined with lack of sleep and a nutritious diet led to the increasing rate of obesity among Korean students.[32]

Effects on health and life expectancy[edit]

The risk of diabetes correlates positively with the increase of body mass index (BMI), which correlates with abdominal obesity as well.[33] Obesity is the root problem of various critical medical conditions that could potentially lead to premature death and increased morbidity.[34]

According to a health report done by the Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (KNHANES) in 2011, the prevalence of obesity and abdominal obesity were 32.0% and 27.7% respectively; whereas for non-diabetic patients the prevalence of obesity and abdominal obesity were 30.8% and 25.5% respectively.[35] In diabetic patients, abdominal obesity was more common than general obesity, whose prevalence was roughly double of those of non-diabetic subjects.[36]

When categorised according to age, a trend of increasing prevalence of obesity with older age was observable, reaching a peak in the 60 to 69 years age group in non-diabetic subjects. As for diabetic subjects, the prevalence of obesity and abdominal obesity peaked in the 40 to 49 year age group, which is much earlier than the non-diabetic subjects.

Anti-obesity efforts[edit]

Aiming to reduce the nation's obesity rate to below 35%, the South Korean government implemented several incentives in the areas of nutrition, exercise, obesity treatment and improved awareness to achieve this goal.[37]

National Health Insurance Program[edit]

All South Korean citizens are eligible for coverage under the National Health Insurance Program. In 2006, the total number of covered people was over 47 million, or over 96.3% of the total population.[38] Starting in November of 2018, public health insurance will cover surgical procedures that are performed to aid patients suffering from obesity. And starting in 2020, medical consultations and dietary training will also be eligible for partial coverage under the national insurance plan.

Medical Aid Program[edit]

Established in 1979 by the government to specifically aid households under the low-income bracket, the Medical Aid Program covers full medical expenses for people who are unable to afford proper health care.[39] Jointly funded by the central and local governments, the Medical Aid Program covers around 3.7% of the total population in South Korea.[40] According to the National Health Insurance Corporation, it is estimated that "the number of people enrolled under the Medical Aid Program is 1,828,627 (3.7%) out of the total national population of 49,238,227.[41]

Monitoring Mukbang programs[edit]

In the efforts of reducing obesity rates in the nation, the Korean government will be monitoring TV programs that portray the 'Mukbang' concept of eating large amounts of foods while interacting with an audience. The aim is to discourage the public on the habit of binge eating unhealthily as most 'Mukbang' programs consist of devouring food with high carbs such as pizza and instant noodles. Aware of the influence of mass media, the government hopes that the guidelines imposed on 'Mukbang' related shows would allow the audience to be entertained, but also to be reminded of eating responsibly.[42]

Happy Me app[edit]

A smartphone application, 'Happy Me', was introduced by the government to schools as an effort to combat child obesity.[43] Happy Me allows parents and teachers to monitor and provide an encouraging environment for participating children. The platform serves as a data reservoir for teachers, enabling them to track students’ eating behaviours, screen time, and anthropometric parameters. Data are collected in the form of numbers and graphs, which eases the data interpretation process. Moreover, teachers are able to support the children by sending encouraging messages through the smartphone application. The main role of teachers in this prevention-based intervention program is to encourage students to improve healthy behaviours rather than to monitor students' performance.

Consenting parents and children in the intervention group will participate in a workshop held at each school. The workshop will be conducted by a research team to explain the use of the 'Happy Me' application and the wearable device. According to the algorithm developed, feedback messages on health assessments and behaviour changes in terms of food intake and physical activity will be sent to both children and parents for further monitoring. Nevertheless, behaviour changes are the most important outcomes in achieving a healthy weight in the long term.

Happy Education Policy[edit]

In the efforts to decrease obesity rates among Korean students, South Korea's former president, Geun-Hye Park, created a policy that implements a one semester ban on exams for 13 year-old students.[44] The aim of this initiative is to educate Korean students that there are more than one way to measure success, besides the conventional academic performance. Moreover, initiatives have been made to change the learning curriculum to be more interactive, which requires students to participate actively.[45]Additionally, the government will finance outdoor activities for school students so that children will be able to enjoy facilities outside of their school gyms such as swimming, skating, bowling, climbing and baseball.


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External links[edit]

It would be greatly appreciated if feedback could be given on these areas: a. Appropriateness of images and captions b. Recommendation on content expansion for any sub-headings c. Flow and structure of topic

Feedback on other areas are more than welcomed.

``Tealdrizzle (talk) 22:42, 16 October 2018 (UTC)

I have corrected some of the referencing, as well as added more referencing on areas that are not sourced. I also made changes to the captions of my images to make it relevant to the topic of obesity in South Korea. ``Tealdrizzle (talk) 02:53, 25 October 2018 (UTC)