Nutr Res Pract.  2019 Dec;13(6):461-472. 10.4162/nrp.2019.13.6.461.

Research trends in obesity & obesogenic environments in Korea

  • 1Department of Food and Nutrition & Research Institute of Obesity Sciences, Sungshin Women's University, 76ga-55, Dobong-ro, Gangbuk-gu, Soeul 01133, Republic of Korea.


Globally, it has been projected that there will be 2 billion overweight and 1 billion obese individuals by 2030. In Korea, the prevalence of adult obesity (BMI>25) increased from 29.7% in 2009 to 32.4% in 2015. Moreover, childhood obesity, which leads to adulthood obesity, has increasingly become a social problem. The purpose of this review is to summarize the scientific basis for the development of effective models and policies aimed at preventing obesity over a lifetime based on research modeling obesogenic environments.
The review focuses on the characteristics of obesity prevalence and trends in 3P analysis (papers, patents, and products) as well as government-funded projects in Korean obesity obesogenic environments over the last 10 years.
AND DISCUSSION: As a result of the 3P analysis, studies on obesity risk factors were frequently carried out, according to two data bases RISS (4.9%) and PubMed (24.7%). Since there were only 17% patents related to the mechanism of preventing obesity in 7,951 Korean patents related to obesity, new paradigms of technologies to dominate the global obesity markets are needed. After government-funded projects were analyzed, communication and cooperation in multi-governmental departments were suggested to elucidate the characteristics of Korean obesity. Government should also produce short- and long-term road maps to develop a practical, successful outcome. Although the rate of obesity in Korea is currently lower than in other developed countries according to WHO criteria, without adequate governmental intervention, obesity rates will approach those of the top countries with high incidence rates of obesity within the next 10 years.


Systematic review; obesogenic environment; 3P analysis; obesity research modeling

MeSH Terms

Developed Countries
Pediatric Obesity
Risk Factors
Social Problems


  • Fig. 1 OECD projections assuming that BMI will continue to rise as a linear function of time. Obesity was defined as BMI > 30Kg/m2 in adults aged 15–74 years. Age and gender-adjusted rates using the 2005 OECD standard population. Height and weight were measured in England, Hungry, Korea, Mexico, and the USA but self-reported in other countries. (From 2017 OECD analysis of national health survey data). (ref; 1)

  • Fig. 2 Analysis of obesity research trends in Korea. Above the chronology bar, the trends and factors influencing obesity research are described, with milestones important to obesity research highlighted below the chronology bar.

  • Fig. 3 Total cases of 664 base-materials approved by the KFDA through Oct 31th, 2018. The cases for reduction of fat (91,13.7%) were largest, followed by joint health (61, 9.2%), eye health (48, 7.2%), and memory improvement (48, 7.2%).

  • Fig. 4 Total cases of patent registration related to obesity for 10 years from 2008 to 2018. The total number of cases was 8,000, which was six times larger than before 2006. Except in 2008, 2016 and 2017, an average of 850 cases were registered every year. (A) Total patents related to fat reduction, most about raw materials (47%), particularly plants, followed by components (36%) and mechanisms (17%) in order. (B). (This figure was manipulated from the original data of references, 13.14 & 15)

  • Fig. 5 CDC Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity, State Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity (NPAO) Program, Technical Assistance Manual, January 2008.) (ref;76)


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