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Korean J Obes 2007; 16(2): 76-85

Published online June 1, 2007

Copyright © Korean Society for the Study of Obesity.

The Relationship between Economic Status and Adolescent Obesity in Incheon, Korea

Jong Kyun Kim, Joeng Soo Im*, Jun Yim*, Sang Hyun Park**, Du Ho Hong***

Senior Industry Research Institute, Kangnam University; Department of Preventive Medicine*, Gachon Medical School; Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine**, College of Medicine, Cheju National University; and Department of Medical Education***, Gachon Medical School

Abstract

Background: Obesity has a multifactorial etiology, in which economic status plays an important role. The association between economic status and obesity begins from the adolescent period. The association between obesity and economic status varies depending on different nations. In western countries, obesity is more prevalent among the low economic status groups, whereas in developing countries, prevalence of obesity is higher among high economic status groups. The purpose of this study is to investigate economic differentials in obesity of Korean adolescents.
Methods: This study used a periodic health examination database of 34,453 students from 38 high schools in Incheon, Korea. The economic status of the study subjects were classified into five groups(group I,: the lowest economic status group, group V: the highest economic status group), according to the premium data retrieved from the Korean National Health Insurance Corporation database.
Results: The risk of obesity was significantly higher in those with high economic status. The adjusted odds ratios for obesity compared to group I were 1.04 (95% CI = 0.93~1.17), 1.14 (95% CI = 1.02-1.28), 1.26 (95% CI = 1.12~1.41) and 1.28 (95% CI = 1.13~1.44) in group II, III, IV and V, respectively, in male students. In female students, there was no significant correlation between obesity and economic status except for group V in which the adjusted odds ratio was 1.18(95% CI=1.01-1.37).
Conclusions: The study shows that, in Korea, economic status is positively associated with prevalence of obesity similar to other developing countries. There should be appropriate preventive measures for adolescent obesity in respect to economic status.

Keywords: Economic status, Obesity, Adolescent

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