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Open Access Open Badges Research article

The prevalence of general and abdominal obesity according to sasang constitution in Korea

Younghwa Baek, Kihyun Park, Siwoo Lee* and Eunsu Jang*

Author Affiliations

Department of KM Health Technology Research Group, Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine, 1672 Yuseongdae-ro, Yuseong-gu, Daejeon 305-811, South Korea

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2014, 14:298  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-14-298

Published: 13 August 2014



Obesity is an important risk factor for cardiovascular and metabolic diseases and could affect mortality rates. Body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference (WC) have been used to classify obesity, and waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) has recently emerged as a discriminator of cardiovascular disease. Sasang constitution (SC) is a kind of well-known traditional Korean medicine: Tae-eumin (TE), Soeumin (SE), Taeyangin (TY) and Soyangin (SY) carrying a different level of susceptibility to chronic diseases. We aimed to examine the prevalence in general and abdominal obesity (AO) using BMI, WC and WHR according to SC in the Korean population.


A total of 3,348 subjects were recruited from 24 Korean medicine clinics. Obesity was divided into three categories: general obesity by BMI, abdominal obesity by waist circumference (WC AO) and abdominal obesity by waist-to-hip ratio (WHR AO). A Chi-square test was performed to compare prevalence, and logistic regression was conducted to generate odds ratios (ORs) according to SC (p < .05).


The prevalence of general obesity was significantly higher in males than in females. The highest prevalence of general obesity, WC AO and WHR AO were all observed in the TE type, and the SY and SE types were followed in order, for both males and females respectively.

The TE type was highly associated with increased risk of general obesity (OR = 20.2, 95% CI: 12.4-32.9 in males and OR = 14.3, 95% CI: 10.1-20.2 in females), of WC AO (OR = 10.7, 95% CI: 7.2-15.9 in males and OR = 7.5, 95% CI: 5.8-9.6 in females), and of WHR AO (OR = 4.6, 95% CI: 3.3-6.4 in males and OR = 3.8, 95% CI: 2.9-4.9 in females) compared with the SE type. In addition, after controlling for age, social status and eating habits, the ORs were similar to the crude model according to gender and SC.


This study shows that the prevalence of obesity varies according to SC in the Korean population. In particular, the TE type was highly associated with increased ORs for general obesity, WC AO and WHR AO in both genders.

General obesity; Abdominal obesity; Sasang constitution; Prevalence; Body mass index; Waist circumference; Waist-to-hip ratio