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J Epidemiol. 2017 Sep;27(9):413-419. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2017 Apr 15.

Recent trends in the prevalence of underweight, overweight, and obesity in Korean adults: The Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 1998 to 2014.

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Department of Family Medicine, Myongji Hospital, Seonam University, College of Medicine, Gyeonggi-do, Republic of Korea; Department of Epidemiology and Health Promotion and Institute for Health Promotion, Graduate School of Public Health, Yonsei University, Seoul, Republic of Korea.
Department of Family Medicine, School of Medicine, Chungbuk National University, Cheongju-city, Republic of Korea. Electronic address:



Recent obesity studies have reported that the rising trend in obesity has stabilized or leveled off. Our study aimed to update estimates of the recent prevalence trend in obesity based on the Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1998-2014.


A total of 66,663 subjects were included and defined as being either underweight, overweight, or obese, in accordance with a BMI of 18.5 kg/m2 or lower, 23 kg/m2 or higher, and 25 kg/m2 or higher, respectively.


The prevalence of underweight in KNHANES I through VI surveys was 4.7%, 3.3%, 3.4%, 3.3%, 2.7%, and 2.6%, respectively, in men (P for trend = 0.03, β = −0.002) and 5.4%, 6.1%, 5.8%, 6.5%, 7.6%, and 7.5%, respectively, in women (P for trend = 0.04, β = 0.003). Also for KNHANES I through VI, the respective prevalence of overweight/obesity was 50.3%, 57.2%, 62.5%, 62.3%, 61.4%, and 62.3% in men (p for trend<0.01, β = 0.009) and 48.3%, 50.3%, 50.0%, 47.8%, 47.0%, and 45.3% in women (p for trend<0.01, β = -0.01), respectively.


The obesity occurrence in men was trending upward with respect to overweight/obesity and for grade 1 and 2 obesity, but not for abdominal obesity. However, the obesity trends in women were leveling off from overweight/obesity, grade 1 obesity, and abdominal obesity measures. Further studies are required with data on muscle mass and adiposity for effective obesity control policies.


Obesity; Overweight; Prevalence; Underweight; Visceral obesity

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