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  • kps1
  • Expert Waygook

    • 637

    • June 04, 2010, 08:20:13 am
    • South Korea
obesity in Korea
« on: March 17, 2012, 10:59:47 am »
ive been in korea way too long... about 8 years...
about to head back home.
its a life i left behind a long time ago.
dont know how ill adjust.
whats it like back?? any tips from people who have made the trip and adjusted back?

i have nothing lined up for me...

I visited the US for 2 weeks for the first time in 2 years about a month ago. I'd have to say, the thing that stands out in my mind is how big the softdrinks are there, sometimes it almost makes me sick when I see someone drinking close to a gallon of soda in one shot. Also, when you go to a restaurant, all the stuff on the menu and having people ask you if youd like a drink with that followed by them asking if you want a REFILL for that drink. It's insane to me how much sugar filled liquids people chug down there.
Also,  you realize how little people make use of walking there, everyone drives. It's no wonder why so many people are obese with all you can eat food, unlimited refills, drive-thrus and their own cars to drive themselves everywhere. As an American it just makes me feel sad seeing other people chugging down all that extra junk they don't need, but people grow up thinking it's normal there. We're pretty much manufactured in a diabetes factory from elementary school.
On the good side though no one smokes, tons of great cheap food and clothes. I got to see my family and was finally able to walk down the street and not have people stare at me and everyone speaks English!


  • Yu_Bumsuk
  • The Legend

    • 2341

    • March 03, 2011, 02:10:36 pm
    • Hicksville, ROK
Re: obesity in Korea
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2012, 11:14:05 am »
ive been in korea way too long... about 8 years...
about to head back home.
its a life i left behind a long time ago.
dont know how ill adjust.
whats it like back?? any tips from people who have made the trip and adjusted back?

i have nothing lined up for me...

I visited the US for 2 weeks for the first time in 2 years about a month ago. I'd have to say, the thing that stands out in my mind is how big the softdrinks are there, sometimes it almost makes me sick when I see someone drinking close to a gallon of soda in one shot. Also, when you go to a restaurant, all the stuff on the menu and having people ask you if youd like a drink with that followed by them asking if you want a REFILL for that drink. It's insane to me how much sugar filled liquids people chug down there.
Also,  you realize how little people make use of walking there, everyone drives. It's no wonder why so many people are obese with all you can eat food, unlimited refills, drive-thrus and their own cars to drive themselves everywhere. As an American it just makes me feel sad seeing other people chugging down all that extra junk they don't need, but people grow up thinking it's normal there. We're pretty much manufactured in a diabetes factory from elementary school.
On the good side though no one smokes, tons of great cheap food and clothes. I got to see my family and was finally able to walk down the street and not have people stare at me and everyone speaks English!

Yeah one of the things that amazes me about North America is how there are entire families of obese people and they think it's perfectly normal. Call them rude but in the long run I think it's quite beneficial when Koreans will point out any pounds someone's put on. There's no way you can get fat here without people noticing and commenting. Military service helps make sure there are almost no obese guys in their 20s. As much as I hate squid and tiny fish that aren't worth de-boning the seafood-heavy diet also really seems to help. In North America there are people who go weeks without eating non-processed fish.


  • naturegirl321
  • Expert Waygook

    • 588

    • June 13, 2011, 01:34:50 pm
    • Seoul
    more
Re: obesity in Korea
« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2012, 09:00:43 am »
You don't have to be fat to be unhealthy. Don't be fooled into thinking that skinny Koreans are super healthy.
The best TEFL jobs in Korea on TEFL Tips.
Tender Embrace Birthing: childbirth classes, doulas, breastfeeding support, and info about giving birth in Korea


  • confusedsafferinkorea
  • Waygook Lord

    • 5722

    • October 08, 2010, 01:02:32 pm
    • Zhubei, Hsinchu County, Taiwan (not part of China)
    more
Re: obesity in Korea
« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2012, 10:57:55 am »
Yeah one of the things that amazes me about North America is how there are entire families of obese people and they think it's perfectly normal. Call them rude but in the long run I think it's quite beneficial when Koreans will point out any pounds someone's put on. There's no way you can get fat here without people noticing and commenting. Military service helps make sure there are almost no obese guys in their 20s. As much as I hate squid and tiny fish that aren't worth de-boning the seafood-heavy diet also really seems to help. In North America there are people who go weeks without eating non-processed fish.

Which Korea do you live in? Open your eyes, there are many obese Koreans, in fact they are very worried about the rate at which it is increasing. If you teach in an Elementary School just look around at the number of obese children, it is a high percentage.  I attended a gym near my school and many of my students also go there and I would say 70% of them are obese.

Everyone raves about how healthy Korean food is, I disagree, but that is a different topic which has been explored.  Don't look through rose-tinted glasses.  I am not saying Americans or Westerners in general are not fat, but to try to say Koreans are all thin and healthy is clearly not true.
There is no known medical cure for stupidity!


  • Yu_Bumsuk
  • The Legend

    • 2341

    • March 03, 2011, 02:10:36 pm
    • Hicksville, ROK
Re: obesity in Korea
« Reply #4 on: March 18, 2012, 12:05:27 pm »
Yeah one of the things that amazes me about North America is how there are entire families of obese people and they think it's perfectly normal. Call them rude but in the long run I think it's quite beneficial when Koreans will point out any pounds someone's put on. There's no way you can get fat here without people noticing and commenting. Military service helps make sure there are almost no obese guys in their 20s. As much as I hate squid and tiny fish that aren't worth de-boning the seafood-heavy diet also really seems to help. In North America there are people who go weeks without eating non-processed fish.

Which Korea do you live in? Open your eyes, there are many obese Koreans, in fact they are very worried about the rate at which it is increasing. If you teach in an Elementary School just look around at the number of obese children, it is a high percentage.  I attended a gym near my school and many of my students also go there and I would say 70% of them are obese.

Everyone raves about how healthy Korean food is, I disagree, but that is a different topic which has been explored.  Don't look through rose-tinted glasses.  I am not saying Americans or Westerners in general are not fat, but to try to say Koreans are all thin and healthy is clearly not true.

http://www.oecd.org/vgn/images/portal/cit_731/29/45/46049624Graph%201.PNG

30% (with a fairly low threshold of what constitutes overweight) versus 65% for the US and 50% for Canada makes for quite a noticeable difference. If you set the threshold higher I'm sure the gap would be even more glaring.

I teach at a rural secondary school and we have very few obese students. Perhaps 10% could be considered overweight and 2% obese. Some of them are admittedly not in the greatest shape and most have little physical stamina. The HS boys who hang out at the gyms I've gone to are also usually surprisingly weak.


  • kps1
  • Expert Waygook

    • 637

    • June 04, 2010, 08:20:13 am
    • South Korea
Re: obesity in Korea
« Reply #5 on: March 18, 2012, 12:29:09 pm »
My whole concern that started this was just the insane amounts of soda people drink in America. The average American drinks close to 46 gallons of soda per year.  When you go to a Korean restaurant in Korea they don't say , so can I start you off with some sodas?

As for what Yu Bum is saying, I don't think he's looking through "rose tinted glasses",there are not even close to as many fat people in Korea as there are in the states. Does that make them healthier? Who knows, but  I know as American's we have a lower bone density eventhough we drink tons of milk, it's rendered useless by all the soda we drink. We have over 28 million people that have diabetes and something like 35 percent of people are obese while a similar percentage is overweight. I honestly think a large factor in this is simply soda. Why are people drinking this garbage all the time and in high amounts in the states? It serves no purpose other than tasting good and it leads to all sorts of health problems. Do people do people drink tons of soda in Korea? Nope.
But, really let's not derail this thread to talk about which country has healthier food.


  • Yu_Bumsuk
  • The Legend

    • 2341

    • March 03, 2011, 02:10:36 pm
    • Hicksville, ROK
Re: obesity in Korea
« Reply #6 on: March 18, 2012, 12:40:38 pm »
kps1 that's very true about the soda. I rarely ever see students with it. What's especially amazing is how many fat people in the west don't just drink the diet versions, which taste pretty much the same to me. I do enjoy fast-food, I have to admit, but I almost never drink sugared drinks with them; I usually just drink water. I look like I'm naturally thin but I'm pretty sure that if my usually drink of choice wasn't water or black coffee I'd start packing on the pounds.

When Koreans do get fast food with soda they're usually under the impression that they're getting a treat, or having something very different from their usual meals. When Americans do it as far as they're concerned they're just having lunch or dinner.


  • Frozencat99
  • The Legend

    • 2095

    • October 09, 2011, 04:31:36 pm
    more
Re: obesity in Korea
« Reply #7 on: March 18, 2012, 02:25:24 pm »
I'd say I have three or four overweight students out of 112. None of them would qualify as obese. You'd need a special level of fantasy to claim there is a similar or even proportionate amount of obesity here and in the US/Canada. I won't speak for any other countries but for the one's I do know, there's no contest.
Beware the Homosexual Industrial Complex -- http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-june-17-2013/left-behind

You can leave your heterophobia behind.


  • confusedsafferinkorea
  • Waygook Lord

    • 5722

    • October 08, 2010, 01:02:32 pm
    • Zhubei, Hsinchu County, Taiwan (not part of China)
    more
Re: obesity in Korea
« Reply #8 on: March 18, 2012, 02:54:45 pm »
I have no wish to derail this thread so this is the last I shall comment, you guys didn't read my post properly. I quote:

'I am not saying Americans or Westerners in general are not fat, but to try to say Koreans are all thin and healthy is clearly not true.'


Perhaps in the rural areas they are still lean, but here in Seoul, that is not true and I recently read a Korean article stating that up to 30% of elementry students are obese. Again, that was perhaps in Seoul and not rural areas, but when I came here 3 years ago I could count the obese children in my school on one hand, now I cannot do that anymore, there is a significant proportion that are obese and if you walk around Seoul you will see what I am talking about.

Cheers to all.
There is no known medical cure for stupidity!


  • kps1
  • Expert Waygook

    • 637

    • June 04, 2010, 08:20:13 am
    • South Korea
Re: obesity in Korea
« Reply #9 on: March 18, 2012, 07:44:20 pm »
kps1 that's very true about the soda. I rarely ever see students with it. What's especially amazing is how many fat people in the west don't just drink the diet versions, which taste pretty much the same to me. I do enjoy fast-food, I have to admit, but I almost never drink sugared drinks with them; I usually just drink water. I look like I'm naturally thin but I'm pretty sure that if my usually drink of choice wasn't water or black coffee I'd start packing on the pounds.

When Koreans do get fast food with soda they're usually under the impression that they're getting a treat, or having something very different from their usual meals. When Americans do it as far as they're concerned they're just having lunch or dinner.

The diet sodas actually slow your metabolism down and are just as bad for you.


  • Frozencat99
  • The Legend

    • 2095

    • October 09, 2011, 04:31:36 pm
    more
Re: obesity in Korea
« Reply #10 on: March 18, 2012, 08:00:16 pm »
I really doubt that up to 30% of elementary students are obese. At 4'0 (trying to aim for some semblance of an average height for elementary school is hard), 30% of them would need to weigh at least 108lbs... it's just something I'm not going to believe unless a reputable source confirms it.
Beware the Homosexual Industrial Complex -- http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-june-17-2013/left-behind

You can leave your heterophobia behind.


  • kps1
  • Expert Waygook

    • 637

    • June 04, 2010, 08:20:13 am
    • South Korea
Re: obesity in Korea
« Reply #11 on: March 18, 2012, 08:15:57 pm »
I'm not really sure who made this into a thread, I mean it says I did...but I didn't. Anyway, it's a good topic.


  • Koreak
  • Super Waygook

    • 405

    • November 13, 2010, 08:15:43 am
    • South Korea
Re: obesity in Korea
« Reply #12 on: March 18, 2012, 09:27:37 pm »
I have been here just short of 5 years, and the proportions of my overweight first graders entering school definitely increases each year!  It is a very small sample size, but you can definitely see an increase in overweight children.


  • Bulgogi
  • Veteran

    • 92

    • December 07, 2011, 01:45:04 pm
Re: obesity in Korea
« Reply #13 on: March 18, 2012, 09:30:07 pm »
We're blaming soda for Korea's obesity problem???  Hell I blame the various amount of fried food that Korean kids eat from the food vendors when they get out of school and the PC bangs.

But yeah, I think Korea's obesity rate is still rather low...hell it's nothing compared to China's alarming obesity rate...and even China's obesity rate is nothing compared to that of the U.S., Canada and the newly CROWNED Obese King..."Mexico".

And here in Korea...  most Western folks are either nerdy skinny or fat/obese...usually the latter.  Seriously... and this reminds me of my co-teacher when she visited America...it was like the zoo for her...taking picture of fat obese Americans and gay couples haha.



  • woman-king
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1159

    • October 18, 2010, 03:56:29 pm
    • Gyeonggi
Re: obesity in Korea
« Reply #14 on: March 18, 2012, 09:45:37 pm »
kps1 that's very true about the soda. I rarely ever see students with it. What's especially amazing is how many fat people in the west don't just drink the diet versions, which taste pretty much the same to me. I do enjoy fast-food, I have to admit, but I almost never drink sugared drinks with them; I usually just drink water. I look like I'm naturally thin but I'm pretty sure that if my usually drink of choice wasn't water or black coffee I'd start packing on the pounds.

When Koreans do get fast food with soda they're usually under the impression that they're getting a treat, or having something very different from their usual meals. When Americans do it as far as they're concerned they're just having lunch or dinner.

Yeah, this.  I mean, there's plenty of fast-food restaurants around Korea now, but in general I think most people still eat fairly traditional meals on a daily basis.  And it's not that Korean food, in and of itself, is so especially healthy--but it's because almost any traditional real 'whole food' diet is going to be healthier than a fast-food diet.  All traditional diets are basically grained-based with some kind of meat and vegetables allotted in as was available and that's always going to be better than a diet of KFC and soda.

I have read that Korea's obesity rate has climbed recently, though, and I've heard some long-time Waygooks comment on that too.  And there's been a very positive organic/whole food/slow food kind of movement in the U.S. in the past decade or so--at least on the West Coast where I'm from.  Most of my Waygook friends here are pretty into food in the way that maintains a healthy weight--cooking whole, real ingredients and keeping processed food to a minimum, and that's what my very American family always did as well.  So yeah, you can't just pigeonhole everyone with Koreans=healthy skinnies who all subsist on rice and veggies, and Westerners are all whales who live off hot dogs, greasy pizza and giant-sized Cokes.  But in terms of who's got more overweight people overall, it's the West by a long margin, I don't see how that can really be disputed.


Re: obesity in Korea
« Reply #15 on: March 18, 2012, 10:00:06 pm »
My whole concern that started this was just the insane amounts of soda people drink in America. The average American drinks close to 46 gallons of soda per year.  When you go to a Korean restaurant in Korea they don't say , so can I start you off with some sodas?

Right, Koreans start off with much healthier options like beer and soju.   ;)

You don't have to be fat to be unhealthy. Don't be fooled into thinking that skinny Koreans are super healthy.

This is an excellent point.  I have known some of these ultra-thin Korean women.  Their diets are unsettling.  I by no means am saying that obese is anything other than extremely unhealthy.  However, these ultra-thin women pretty much subsist on a diet of a couple cookies a day.  If you ever see them eating a meal when you go out, or at work, this is pretty much the only time they eat a significant meal.  Otherwise, they eat very little, and what they do eat sorely lacks in nutritional value (no vitamins, minerals etc.).  Also, they are often very physically weak.

Of the folks I know who are a few pounds overweight (not obese), they're probably healthier than the super-skinny folks.  The slightly overweight folks generally at least eat some vegetables and some lean protein.  Yet, these folks are the ones who get pointed at as unhealthy, rather than the super-skinny ones.

*disclaimer: these are generalizations and of course the healthiest is to be at an optimal weight with a balanced diet and exercise that is best for one's individuals needs.
C is for cookie, that's good enough for me.


  • Harpoinseoul
  • Expert Waygook

    • 682

    • March 23, 2011, 06:49:03 pm
    • Coquitlam, BC
    more
Re: obesity in Korea
« Reply #16 on: March 18, 2012, 10:00:29 pm »
I think that the use of High-fructose corn syrup in the USA since the 80's, and more recent use in the food here has been one of the problems. MSG as well.
The increase in the obesity rate in Seoul-Gyonggi-do is also the level of stress and lack of sleep that many children are experiencing. Both of those can cause huge inflammation.
In addition, the lack of the Vitamin D3 hormone can put lots of people out of wack.
Polyunsaturated processed food is destroying bodies as well. A change to more whole foods would make a big difference.
(Would your great-grandmother recognise it if she saw it?)
At restaurants, avoiding soft-drinks and instead having a tall glass of water with a twist of lemon would work wonders!
In addition, cutting out bread for a while. Even whole wheat bread is high on the glycemic index chart.
Walking, weight training, yoga cycling...etc. can really go a long way to help burn off energy.

One other thing, if a whole family struggles with being overwheight, then I think that a systems approach would be much more helpful.
Having a whole family commit to change to a more healthy lifesyle can make a big difference.
I'm really learning a lot listening to Sean Croxton on the The Underground Wellness Show.
Lots of interesting opinions.

Finally, when I first met and started dating my wife I was fairly fat. She would constantly say that I was fat.
When we went to Canada, she commented~ you're not that fat afterall compared to many over here!!  ;D
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Re: obesity in Korea
« Reply #17 on: March 19, 2012, 06:52:51 am »
I would say, although the obesity rate may be lower here in Korea than America, at least in America you have more choice over the quality of food you can purchase. It seems here that anything packaged will have msg, the organics are slim pickins, and all the while South Korea is the one of largest supporter of pesticides and use one of the highest rates of pesticide in the WORLD.

http://www.evb.ch/cm_data/overview_of_pesticide_poisoning_in_south_korea.pdf

So to say skinny vs obesity is not really looking at the larger problem.  Koreans are also being diagnosed with cancer, which is on the rise and is going to increase of the next few years due to their unnatural products and lack of organic produce. Though the ajomma's will have some good, cheap produce on the side streets, the water that is being used to grow these plants is not clean whatsoever, due to the large factories dumping their pollutants in the water reservoirs. Also, if you eat fish here, sorry to say, but all the toxins and pollutants dumped by the major car, computer, and agriculture businesses are going straight into the ocean, not to mention the Sendai meltdown has caused extreme nuclear radiated waters affecting all wildlife in the ocean.

Obesity points out the psychological damage done by a society who fanatically supports western media/culture (maybe not entirely their politics), but the deeper issue lies inside everyone's bodies living here in Korea.


  • confusedsafferinkorea
  • Waygook Lord

    • 5722

    • October 08, 2010, 01:02:32 pm
    • Zhubei, Hsinchu County, Taiwan (not part of China)
    more
Re: obesity in Korea
« Reply #18 on: March 19, 2012, 07:37:04 am »
I really doubt that up to 30% of elementary students are obese. At 4'0 (trying to aim for some semblance of an average height for elementary school is hard), 30% of them would need to weigh at least 108lbs... it's just something I'm not going to believe unless a reputable source confirms it.

Here are some links:

http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/biz/2012/03/328_105665.html

http://110.45.173.105/www/news/art/2011/11/117_98751.html

http://110.45.173.105/www/news/nation/2011/11/117_98693.html

http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/biz/2012/02/113_105719.html

http://www.koreaherald.com/national/Detail.jsp?newsMLId=20120226000288

My apologies, the 30% applied to adults, the rate for Elementary students is less but still on the increase.
There is no known medical cure for stupidity!


Re: obesity in Korea
« Reply #19 on: March 19, 2012, 07:43:48 am »
pretty interesting all this. i have only been in korea a few weeks but i wondering about the health of the korean diet. a lot of pickled food and a lot of meat...a fair bit of starch too. as a vegetarian, i find the lack of vegetable-only or vegetable-generous food unsettling. but obesity is on the rise in almost every developed country in the world...frightening but true and korea seems to be no exception. also, the influence of western take out cannot be a good one!