Journal of Obesity & Metabolic Syndrome



J Korean Soc Study Obes 2002; 11(4): 349-355

Published online December 1, 2002

Copyright © Korean Society for the Study of Obesity.

The Self-Assessment of Obesity in Korean Adults

Jae Kyung Hwang M.D.,Hong-Kyu Kim M.D.,Hee Sang Kong M.D.,Hyo Joong Yoon M.D.,Yong Ha Hwang M.D.,Ki Young Lee M.D.,Yon Sil Jung M.D.,Sung Kwang Lee M.D.,Hye Young Park M.D.,Kab Whan Kim1 M.D.,Won Chul Choi1 M.D.,Moon Ho Kang M.D.

Division of Endocrinology and metabolism, Department of Internal Medicine, Health Center1, Gachon Medical School Gil Medical Center, Incheon, Korea


Background: Obesity has become a matter of
great public concern in Korea with its increasing
prevalence in recent years. People should properly
recognize themselves whether to be obese or not
before seeking medical attention. However selfassessment
of obesity may be erroneously subjective
and misleading. This study is to investigate the
possible discrepancy between self-assessment of
obesity and obesity defined by BMI in Korean
Materials And Methods: Five hundred sixty one
adult subjects (341 men and 220 women) who took a
routine health examination in Gachon Health Center
were included in this study. We analyzed the data
obtained from health examination and a
questionnaire including self-assessment of obesity
categorized as underweight, normal, obese and
severely obese. Body mass index (BMI) ≥25 kg/m2
is defined as obese, BMI ≥30 kg/m2 as very obese
and BMI <20 kg/m2 as underweight.
Results: The age of the subjects was 37±13 years,
male to female ratio 1.5:1, the BMI 22.7± 3.2 kg/m2,
and the WHR 0.85±.0.07. The concordance rates
between self-assessment of obesity and obesity
defined by BMI were 56%, 52%, 49% and 89%
(kappa=0.26) respectively in underweight, normal,
obese and very obese. 44% of men with obesity
(BMI ≥25 kg/m2) assessed themselves to be
non-obese, whereas 43% of non-obese women (BMI
<25 kg/m2) assessed themselves to be obese. There
were no differences in age, education level, and
residential area between the groups who correctly
assessed their obesity and did not.
Conclusions: There were significant discrepancies
between self-assessment of obesity and obesity
defined by BMI in Korean adults. Significant
proportion of men with obesity underestimated their
obesity, while significant proportion of non-obese
women overestimated their fatness. These results
suggest that public education be required to provide
the proper definition of obesity and avoid the
misleading in its management.

Keywords: Obesity, Self-assessment, Body Mass Index (BMI)