Journal of Obesity & Metabolic Syndrome



J Korean Soc Study Obes 2001; 10(2): 147-155

Published online June 1, 2001

Copyright © Korean Society for the Study of Obesity.

The Relationship between Body Mass Index and Morbidity in Korea

Kyung-Won Sim,Sang-Hwa Lee,Hong-Soo Lee

Department of Family Medicine, Mokdong Hospital, College of medicine, Ewha Woman's University


Background: The prevalence of obesity-related diseases is rapidly increasing in Korea. We planed to investigate the relationship between body mass index and morbidity of major chronic diseases in Korea.
Methods: We examined 1,689 persons who took the annual health examination from January, 2000 to June, 2000. BMI was measured and analyzed in order to discover its association with various chronic diseases.
Results: Two important facts were discovered. First, the mean of BMI, 23.59±3.32 kg/m2 (female), 24.17±2.86 kg/m2 (male), and the mean frequency of medical problems (morbidity index, Table 1), 1.46±1.33 (female), 1.64±1.32 (male), were found to increase in accordance with aging. Second, various chronic diseases, such as hypertension, hyperlipidemia and glucose intolerance, liver disease, and hyperuricemia, were positively correlated with BMI. However, negative correlation was observed in respiratory diseases and anemia. Abnormal EKG, renal disease, and upper gastrointestinal disease were not influenced by BMI. Morbidity index was in a positive correlation with BMI. That is, the group with the lowest BMI (<23 kg/m2) had the lowest morbidity index (1.21±1.11), and the group with the highest BMI (≥25 kg/m2) had the highest morbidity index (1.95±1.23). Another fact worth mentioning is that the age of 50 is a crucial time to be need for prophylaxis of women's obesity. Above 50, women's BMI was higher than men's while under 50, vice versa. And morbidity index was similiar.
Conclusion: In Korea, BMI had influence on the frequency of chronic diseases, and the Asia-Pacific criteria of redefining obesity are expected to be reliable for the estimation of Koreans' obesity and health risk.

Keywords: Obesity, Overweight, Body mass index, Morbidity