Overview of noncommunicable diseases in Korean children and adolescents: Focus on obesity and its effect on metabolic syndrome

Hye Ah Lee, Hyesook Park

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Obesity during childhood is a dominant risk factor for noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), and is itself considered a disease that needs to be treated. Recently, the growth in childhood obesity in Korea has become stagnant; however, two in every ten children are still overweight. In addition, 60% or more of overweight children have at least one metabolic syndrome risk factor. Thus, childhood obesity should be controlled through lifestyle modification. This paper reviews studies of the modifiable risk factors of obesity in Korean children. According to the life-course approach, preschool-aged children (<5 years) are influenced by their parents rather than individual habits because they are under mostly parental care. Elementary school-aged children (6 to 11 years) are affected by overlapping individual and parental effects. This may mean that the establishment of individual behavior patterns begins during this period. The conditions of poor eating habits such as skipping meals, eating out, and high fat intake, along with low physical activity, facilitate increased obesity among adolescents (12 to 18 years). Notably, adolescent girls show high rates of both underweight and obesity, which may lead to the development of NCDs in their offspring. Therefore, the problem of NCDs is no longer limited to adults, but is also prevalent among children. In addition, early intervention offers cost-effective opportunities for preventing NCDs. Thus, children need primary consideration, adequate monitoring, diagnosis, and treatment to reduce the burden of NCDs later in adulthood

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-182
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Preventive Medicine and Public Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2013


  • Adolescents
  • Children
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Noncommunicable diseases
  • Obesity


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