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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Nov. 10)

All Headlines 07:15 November 10, 2017

Companies, schools, families need to do their part

A recent study by the Ministry of Health and Welfare underlined a worrisome increase in the obesity rate among Korean adult males.

The ministry report showed Korean men's obesity rate reached 42.3 percent in 2016, meaning two out of five men are overweight. It is the first time the rate surpassed 40 percent. The rate is much higher than the 25.1 percent in 1998.

In particular, it is alarming the rate was almost 50 percent among men in their 40s, one of the most active age groups at workplaces.

The obesity rate among men is much higher than the 26.4 percent among women. The rate was 26.2 percent in 1998, so women's obesity rate has not changed much, in contrast to that of men's.

The report also showed many Korean adult males already have or are at risk of getting chronic ailments related to obesity, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

The increasing obesity rate is due to the unhealthy lifestyle of many Korean male workers. The study showed Korean men drink too much. More than 20 percent of respondents were consuming alcohol more than twice a week.

There is also a big problem with the eating habits of many working men. The study showed men were more prone to skip breakfast and eat out compared to women. Many experts say skipping breakfast is unhealthy and ineffective for losing weight.

Lack of exercise is another big reason for the high obesity rate among men. Korea has a bad reputation for having some of the longest working hours among OECD countries. This makes it hard for working men to make time for regular physical exercise during the week. The study showed people taking regular walks during the week dropped significantly since 2005 and less people were taking time out for serious cardiovascular exercises such as running for more than two hours every week.

People are living longer so it is crucial for every age group to take care of themselves.

Companies need to change their culture of mandatory office dinners and late work hours so their employees can go home early enough to cook a healthy meal and take time to get some physical exercise during the week regularly. They should also consider building in-house gyms so employees can work out during their breaks. Healthy workers are happy workers, and happy workers are beneficial for the company.

The obesity rate among teenagers is also on the rise as Korean students are not getting enough exercise compared to their contemporaries in the U.S. and other foreign countries where physical education is a crucial part of the school curriculum. More than 20 percent of teenagers eat fast food more than three times a week.

Schools and parents need to educate children about the importance of exercise and eating right from an early age.


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