Gender and Socioeconomic Status in Relation to Weight Perception and Weight Control Behavior in Korean Adults

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Abstract

Aim:

In Korea, obesity is more prevalent among men and lower socioeconomic groups. To explain this obesity disparity, we compared weight perception and weight control behavior across gender and socioeconomic status (SES).

Methods:

We analyzed data from 16,260 participants aged 20 years or older in a nationally representative cross-sectional survey. SES indicators included education and income levels. Weight under-perception was defined when participants considered themselves lighter than their measured BMI status. Either no active or inappropriate weight control (i.e., trying to gain weight in obese individuals) was considered to be unhealthy patterns. Multivariate prevalence ratios were calculated using log-binomial regressions.

Results:

Men had a higher prevalence of weight under-perception (24.5 vs. 11.9%) and unhealthy patterns of weight control behavior (57 vs. 40%) than women. Low education level was associated with weight under-perception (ptrend = 0.022 in men, ptrend < 0.001 in women). Both education and income levels were significantly associated with patterns of weight control behavior (for education: ptrend < 0.001 in men and women; for income: ptrend = 0.047 in men, ptrend < 0.001 in women).

Conclusion:

Weight perception and weight control behavior significantly varied by gender and SES. Public actions should be directed toward improving perception and behavior of high-risk populations.

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