Increase of Prevalence of Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome in Children and Adolescents in Korea during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Cross-Sectional Study Using the KNHANES

Jung Eun Choi, Hye Ah Lee, Sung Won Park, Jung Won Lee, Ji Hyen Lee, Hyesook Park, Hae Soon Kim

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4 Scopus citations

Abstract

(1) Background: The aim of this study was to evaluate the prevalence of obesity and metabolic syndrome since the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak utilizing representative data on youth aged 2–18 years from the Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (KNHANES) conducted in 2019–2020. (2) Methods: The survey consists of three parts: health interviews, health examinations, and nutrition surveys. From the 2019 and 2020 surveys, 1371 (2–9 years = 702 and 10–18 years = 669) and 1124 (2–9 years = 543 and 10–18 years = 581) individuals were included in the analysis. (3) Results: The mean body mass index (BMI) increased significantly among youth aged 2–9 years from 16.53 kg/m2 in 2019 to 17.1 kg/m2 in 2020 (p < 0.01). In youth aged 10–18 years, the BMI was found to increase slightly from 21.25 kg/m2 in 2019 to 21.41 kg/m2 in 2020 (p = 0.64). The increasing prevalence of extreme obesity was significant in girls, especially those aged 2–9 years (p < 0.01). However, extreme obesity had increased in 10–18-year-old boys (p = 0.08). The overall prevalence of metabolic syndrome in adolescents increased from 3.79% to 7.79% during the COVID-19 pandemic (p = 0.01). (4) Conclusions: We observed that the prevalence of obesity and metabolic syndrome among children and adolescents has increased after the COVID-19 outbreak. This is believed to be associated with an increase in the rate of early comorbidities in adulthood. The prevention of the progression of pediatric obesity has recently become an urgent public health concern in Korea.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1105
JournalChildren
Volume10
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 by the authors.

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • KNHANES
  • metabolic syndrome
  • obesity

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