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J Korean Med Assoc > Volume 56(3); 2013 > Article
Journal of the Korean Medical Association 2013;56(3):175-183.
Published online March 19, 2013.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.5124/jkma.2013.56.3.175   
Socioeconomic inequalities in health risk factors in Korea
Yu Mi Kim, Kyunghee Jung-Choi
1Department of Preventive Medicine, Dong-A University College of Medicine, Busan, Korea.
2Department of Preventive Medicine, Ewha Womans University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea. jungchoikh@gmail.com
Tackling socioeconomic inequalities in health risk factors is an important pathway for alleviating health inequalities. The aim of this study was to analyze the current state of inequality in health risk factors by socioeconomic status in Korea through a literature review of recently published studies and description of secondary data from the Korea National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (KNHANES). We evaluated the extent and trends of socioeconomic inequalities in health behavior (smoking, high-risk alcohol drinking, moderate exercise, and nutritional deficiency) and clinical risk factors (hypertension, diabetes mellitus, hypercholesterolemia, and obesity) with 1998 to 2010 KNHANES data based on socio-economic status. Furthermore, we summarized the impact of several distal health determinants like income, education and occupation, and childhood period on health inequalities in Korea. The results showed that a wide range of health risk factors including more distal causes were socio-economically patterned to varying degrees. In order to reduce health inequalities by socioeconomic status, more comprehensive monitoring and measures, and well-designed studies are required for promoting the understanding of the causal pathway and developing interventional strategies.
Key Words: Health behavior, Risk factors, Socioeconomic factors, Socioeconomic inequality


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