Low-income women show high obesity rate
By Yun Suh-young
Statistics show females making less money and conversely males with higher salaries have higher obesity rates.
The obesity rates were the highest among females with low income at 28.9 percent and males with high income at 41 percent, according to recent data from the Korea Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
The finding was based on the center’s survey of 8,000 adults. The respondents were categorized according to their monthly income into four levels _ high, mid-high, mid-low, and low.
For females, the percentage of high-income women who were obese was 23.2 percent and mid-low and mid-high at 26.5 and 26.9 percent each.
As for men, those in the lowest income brackets showed 31.8 percent in rate of obesity, the lowest among the four categories, whereas mid-low and mid-high marked 38.7 and 34.3 percent respectively.
“The correlation between obesity rate and level of income is similar among the OECD countries. Until 2005, people who had higher income levels were thought to be more obese because they would eat more. But the situation has changed since then,” said Kweon Sang-hui, an official from the Korea Center for Disease Control and Prevention who conducted the survey.
“The obesity rate is still high among males in the higher income bracket but also unusually high among females in the lower income bracket. This is because men tend to be less willing to manage their obesity than women. Women are very willing to control their weight and if they have enough money, they invest in the treatment whereas men don’t,” she said.
The high obesity rate in low income females is because those with low income are less informed about the treatment methods, according to Kweon.
“Usually, those who earn higher income receive health management but those who don’t are less exposed to information about treatment. They also spend less on healthcare which is why obesity isn’t solved,” she said.
The total obesity rate of adults aged 19 and over increased by 4.8 percent to 30.8 percent in 10 years compared to the 26 percent recorded in 1998. The obesity rate of children aged between six and 11 and teenagers between ages 12 to 18 also increased by 3 and 3.5 percentage points respectively.
In terms of energy consumption, low income people consumed less nutritious food. The percentage of nutrition they consumed was below 75 percent of the necessary amount. They lacked in calcium, iron, and vitamin A.
High income earners consumed excessive amounts of calories. Their energy consumption level was over 125 percent, way above the recommended level.
Those who answered that they had consumed a satisfactory amount of food during the past year marked 99.3 percent among the high income bracket but 87.7 percent in the low income bracket.