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Determinants of Obesity for Adults in Seoul

Chang Woo ShonㆍJung Ah KimㆍIn Hye Yu


In Korea, 1 out of 3 people is obese. Obesity, one of the biggest risk factor on health, results in health consequences such as type 2 diabetes, blood pressure, and it increases the mortality rate. In addition, it causes a host of social consequences including depression, psychological pains, and it also brings about astronomical figure of social economic costs up to $55 billion in 2013, jumped by 2.2 times compared to 2005. In the past, policies combating obesity usually focused on improving individual health behaviors, reducing food intake, increasing physical activities. However, there has been a tide that comprehensive approaches are needed which include social and environmental level to combat and prevent obesity since 2000’s. Against the backdrop of this situation, this research analyzed both individual and environmental determinants of obesity in Seoul from the perspective of Urban Health.

These are results of multi-level analysis regarding determinants of obesity in Seoul. For common individual determinants of both men and women increasing obesity rate, high risk drinking, the time spent for using internet and watching television, stress, high salt intake, subjective perception on health were identified. After controlling for individual determinants, the obesity rate of men living in areas with a lot of sports facilities was low, and the obesity rate of women tended to be lowered but it was not statistically significant. Also the obesity rate of men, who live in area where more people commute by cars, was higher than men who don’t live in that area. On the other hand, the obesity rate of men, whose walking satisfaction was high, was low. For food environment, the more there were fast food restaurants, the lower obese it is likely to appear for men. However, it was not statistically significant for women. However, in case of women living in area where the food security level was low, the obesity rate was low. For urban environment, urban sprawl had the association with obesity, with increase in urban sprawl level being associated with a increase in the likelihood of obesity.

The individual level of the determinants that are affecting obesity, are also influenced by the environmental determinants in Seoul. For example, it is not appropriate that eating habit of individuals is merely because of the tendency of individuals, as it tends to be more culture of the society that one belongs to or lives in. Also, we should make an effort to improve physical activity environment at the same time. According to the results, variables related to physical environment, such as satisfaction level of walking, transportation, sports facility, lowered obesity rate. In case of Seoul, physical activity amount stand on more chances influenced by road environment and transport system not only around residences but also distance between residence and workplace. In addition, sports facility was also the environmental factor preventing obesity, it will be effective that Seoul City or autonomous districts manage sports facilities and swimming pools where these facilities are influenced by regional economic standards.

Furthermore, cooperation among government departments, urban planning, transportation, economy, public health, environment, is needed in order to reduce obesity rate in Seoul. To achieve this, designing governance structure of Seoul for urban health is needed, and we also call for cooperative governance among each government departments and multidisciplinary researches. With establishing this kind of governance structure, we should design long-term urban planning considering not healthcare services but citizen’s health when we devise basic urban planning of Seoul.




01 Introduction

1_Background and purpose of the study

2_Research outline and scope


02 Reviews of determinants of obesity and the policies

1_Determinants of the obesity

2_Obesity prevention policy in Megacity


03 Trends in prevalence of obesity and weight control attempt


2_Trends in prevalence of obesity

3_Trends in prevalence of severe obesity

4_Trends in prevalence of weight control attempt rate of obese citizen in Seoul

5_Relation between weight control attempt rate and obesity rate


04 Correlation between environmental factors in local government and the prevalence of obesity


2_Trends of individual health behaviors and Environmental factors

3_The determinants of obesity in Seoul using multi-level analysis

4_The determinants of weight control attempt of obese Seoul citizen


05 Correlation between living environment and individual obesity


2_Distribution of living environment contributing to obesity

3_Correlation between obesity and physical activity environment in Seoul

4_Correlation between obesity and food environment in Seoul


06 Conclusion and suggestions

1_Summary and implication of the study

2_Policy suggestions for making health-oriented city