81% of deaths in Korea caused by chronic illnesses

By 이다영
  • Published : Aug 20, 2015 - 18:16
  • Updated : Aug 20, 2015 - 18:44

More than 80 percent of deaths in South Korea are caused by chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease, while many Koreans are still engaged in health risk behaviors including excessive alcohol consumption, a government study showed Thursday.

According to the report released by the Korea Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 7 of the top 10 causes of death in 2013 were chronic diseases. Four of these diseases -- cancer, diabetes, lower respiratory diseases and circulatory system diseases -- together accounted for 70 percent of all deaths in the same year.

The cost to treat patients of chronic disease, 38 trillion won ($32.06 billion), also accounted for nearly 80 percent of all entire medical bills in 2013. 
More than 80 percent of deaths in South Korea are caused by chronic diseases, a government study showed. (123RF)

Chronic conditions -- such as obesity, arthritis and prediabetes -- are known as among the most common and preventable of all health problems. Health risk behaviors, especially physical inactivity, excessive smoking and drinking and unhealthy diet are some of the major causes of more serious chronic diseases.

The report showed that Koreans, especially teenagers, don’t exercise enough. Only 12.5 percent of all Korean teenagers were engaged in physical activities as of 2013, while 47.2 percent of Korean adults were doing the same.

Also, 11.9 percent of adult Koreans were drinking more than twice weekly, each time drinking at least seven glasses. A total of 41.4 percent of adult Korean men were smoking, as were 14.4 percent of male teenagers.

The report showed that Korean adults should consume less calories. In 2013, 21.6 percent of all adult Koreans were overconsuming high-calorie foods, while 47.2 percent of Korean teens were overeating high-fat foods in the same year.

Also, 13 million Koreans were obese as of 2013. The condition is becoming significantly more prevalent among men in their 20s and 30s. Nearly 30 percent of all adult Koreans, 9 million of them, had high blood pressure, but only 58.6 percent had been treated properly.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare said it is important to promote a healthy lifestyle as many of the chronic diseases are preventable.

“Even those with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity can prevent developing more serious diseases, such as stroke or heart attacks, by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and diet,” the ministry said in a statement.

By Claire Lee (