By Bae Ji-sook
Almost two in every 10 women suffer from undernourishment, with intentional starvation being the main cause, according to the latest survey by the Ministry for Health, Welfare and Family Affairs.
A prime example of this phenomenon is 30-year-old Cho, who, by her own admission, has tried almost every diet regiment that has hit the market since she turned 20.
"You name it. I've done it. From eating only one type of food such as bananas to the Danish macrobiotic diet, I have tried them all," said Cho. "Some worked but some didn't. The bottom line is that you should not eat."
Cho is not alone in believing firmly that not eating is the best method to shed pounds or remain slim. The 21st century has become the age of "Looks are everything" and "Being slim is the proof of beauty." The statistics support this ideology.
In its latest report, 19.2 percent of women were found to be undernourished. The figure is high for a developed country, the ministry said. About 11.6 percent of men are also not properly nourished.
Wanting to be "beautiful" was the key reason.
In the 2007 report, 48.7 percent of teenagers were on a diet, with 65.3 percent of females restricting their eating.
About 88.3 percent of the females were doing so to make their appearance better. This year, the trend has not significantly changed.
In this year's report, the number of females suffering from osteoporosis was five times higher than males
"There are various reasons causing the bone-weakening disease such as women giving birth or experiencing menstruation. The large gap between the sexes is one of many signs that an unhealthy diet is even more prevalent among women," ministry official Oh Sang-yoon said.
Experts warned that females could face even more severe health problems, if they do not maintain a balanced diet. Conditions from hair loss and depression to bulimia, constipation and anorexia are often seen among women who diet, Seo Jung-wan of the Korean Pediatric Society said.
Prof. Noh Dong-young of Seoul National University hospital says that underweight women have a higher chance of getting breast cancer than those of normal weight.