Epidemiol Health.  2021;43(1):e2021026. 10.4178/epih.e2021026.

Trends in health behaviors over 20 years: findings from the 1998-2018 Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey

  • 1Division of Health and Nutrition Survey and Analysis, Bureau of Chronic Disease Prevention and Control, Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency, Cheongju, Korea
  • 2Public Health Medical Service Office, Chungnam National University Hospital, Daejeon, Korea


This study aimed to examine the trends in health behaviors in Korean population using data from the Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (KNHANES).
The subjects were 96,408 adults aged 19 years or older who participated in the first (1998) through seventh (2016-2018) KNHANES health interview. The prevalence of health behaviors (cigarette smoking, alcohol drinking, and physical activity) and annual percent change (APC) were estimated using SAS and the Joinpoint program.
The prevalence of current cigarette smoking in men decreased by 2.8%p (APC= -2.8, p< 0.001) annually over the 20-year period, and the prevalence of exposure to secondhand smoke at home substantially decreased compared to 2005 (APC= -8.8, p< 0.001). Compared to 2005, the prevalence of current alcohol drinking in women, but not men, increased (APC= 2.0, p< 0.001), and the prevalence of binge drinking decreased in men (APC= -0.7, p< 0.001) and increased in women (APC= 2.4, p< 0.001). The prevalence of aerobic physical activity decreased from 2014 in both gendersd (p< 0.001). The prevalence of healthy behaviors practice (non-smoking, alcohol abstinence, and aerobic physical activity) was down-trending (APC= -5.3, p< 0.001), especially among women (APC= -6.4, p< 0.001).
Over the past 20 years, smoking behaviors improved. However, drinking behavior was unchanged and physical activity indicators markedly decreased. More active programs are necessary for improving health behaviors, which are major risk factors linked to chronic diseases.


Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, Health behaviors, Cigarette smoking, Alcohol drinking, Physical activity
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