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Open Access Research article

Association between obesity and metabolic co-morbidities among children and adolescents in South Korea based on national data

Hyunjung Lim12, Hong Xue34 and Youfa Wang34*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Medical Nutrition, Graduate School of East-West Medical Science, Kyung Hee University, Yongin-si, Gyeonggi-do, Republic of Korea

2 Research Institute of Medical Nutrition, Kyung Hee University, Seoul, Republic of Korea

3 Johns Hopkins Global Center on Childhood Obesity, Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA

4 Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health, School of Public Health and Health Professions, University at Buffalo, State University of New York, Buffalo, NY, USA

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BMC Public Health 2014, 14:279  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-279

Published: 25 March 2014



Childhood obesity has become a serious public health threat worldwide due to its many short- and long-term adverse health effects. We assessed the association between weight status and metabolic co-morbidities among South Korean children using nationally representative data.


Data from the 2007-2008 Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys for 1,526 children aged 10-19 years were used. Logistic regression models were fit to examine the association between weight status [overweight, 85th percentile ≤ BMI <95th percentile; obese, BMI ≥95th percentile; and central obesity, waist circumference ≥90th percentile, based on 2007 Korean National Growth Charts] and metabolic outcomes.


More obese children had metabolic co-morbidities than normal-weight children (P < 0.05). Boys had higher means BMI than girls, WC, and BP, while girls had higher means of total blood cholesterol and HDL-cholesterol (P < 0.05). Attributable risk of metabolic syndrome was high due to overweight and obesity: 91.1% for central obesity and 29.6% for high TG. Obese children had increased risk of having high BP (adjusted odds ratio (OR): 1.90; 95% CI: 1.05-3.45), dyslipidemia (OR: 6.21; 95% CI: 3.59-10.75), high TG (OR: 6.87; 95% CI: 4.05-11.64), low HDL (OR: 4.46; 95% CI: 2.23-8.89), and ≥2 co-morbidities (OR: 26.97; 95% CI: 14.95-48.65) compared to normal-weight subjects, while the associations between weight status and metabolic outcomes were stronger in boys.


Obesity was strongly associated with metabolic co-morbidities in South Korean children.

Child; Adolescents; Body mass index; Obesity; Metabolic co-morbidity; Metabolic syndrome; South Korean; Waist