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Article

Weight Gain Predicts Metabolic Syndrome among North Korean Refugees in South Korea

1
Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Department of Internal Medicine, College of Medicine, Hallym University, Chuncheon 24253, Korea
2
Graduate School of Public Health, Ajou University, Suwon 16500, Korea
3
Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, Ajou University School of Medicine, Suwon 16500, Korea
4
Ajou Institute of Korean Unification and Health Care, Suwon 16500, Korea
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Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Department of Internal Medicine, Anyang Sam Hospital, Anyang 14030, Korea
6
Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Department of Internal Medicine, College of Medicine, Korea University, Seoul 02841, Korea
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Marcos Maynar Mariño, Diego Muñoz Marín and Armando de Mendoça Raimundo
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(16), 8479; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18168479
Received: 30 June 2021 / Revised: 5 August 2021 / Accepted: 9 August 2021 / Published: 11 August 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Body Composition in Sports and Health)
Previous cross-sectional studies showed that immigrants from low-income to high-income countries have higher risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes mellitus. We investigated the association between weight gain during the resettlement in South Korea and risk of metabolic syndrome (MetS) among North Korean refugees (NKRs) in this cross-sectional study. In total, 932 NKRs aged 20–80 years in South Korea voluntarily underwent health examination from 2008 to 2017. We compared the risk of MetS and its components between the weight gain group (gained ≥5 kg) and the non-weight gain group (gained <5 kg, maintained or lost body weight) during resettlement in South Korea after defection from North Korea. Multiple logistic regression analysis predicted odds ratio of MetS on the basis of weight change, adjusting for covariates and current body mass index (BMI). We also evaluated the difference in body composition of NKRs between two groups. The prevalence of MetS in the weight gain group was 26%, compared to 10% in the non-weight gain group (p-value < 0.001). The weight gain group had a two-fold higher risk of MetS than the non-weight gain group after adjusting for current BMI (odds ratio 1.875, p-value = 0.045). The prevalence of central obesity, impaired fasting glucose, elevated blood pressure, and hypertriglyceridemia were higher in the weight gain group than the non-weight gain group (36% vs. 12%, p-value < 0.001; 32% vs. 19%, p-value < 0.001; 34 vs. 25%, p-value = 0.008; 19% vs. 13%, p-value = 0.025, respectively). The analysis of body composition showed that the percentage of body fat in the weight gain group was higher than in the non-weight gain group, indicating increased fat mass rather than muscle mass in the weight gain group as their body weight increased during resettlement (33.4 ± 6.53% vs. 28.88 ± 7.40%, p < 0.005). Excess weight gain after defection from North Korea increased the risk of MetS among NKRs in South Korea. It is necessary to monitor weight change among NKRs and their effect on their metabolic health in the long term. View Full-Text
Keywords: North Korean refugee; weight gain; metabolic syndrome; percentage body fat North Korean refugee; weight gain; metabolic syndrome; percentage body fat
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MDPI and ACS Style

Kim, Y.J.; Lee, Y.H.; Lee, Y.J.; Kim, K.J.; Kim, S.G. Weight Gain Predicts Metabolic Syndrome among North Korean Refugees in South Korea. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 8479. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18168479

AMA Style

Kim YJ, Lee YH, Lee YJ, Kim KJ, Kim SG. Weight Gain Predicts Metabolic Syndrome among North Korean Refugees in South Korea. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2021; 18(16):8479. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18168479

Chicago/Turabian Style

Kim, Yoon J., Yo H. Lee, Yun J. Lee, Kyeong J. Kim, and Sin G. Kim 2021. "Weight Gain Predicts Metabolic Syndrome among North Korean Refugees in South Korea" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18, no. 16: 8479. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18168479

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