Underweight people are more likely to be dissatisfied with life and commit suicide in Korea, a recent study showed.
The research team, led by Hong Jin-pyo, a professor at psychiatry department of Samsung Medical Center, surveyed 5,905 Korean adults aged between 18 and 74 for the “Korean Epidemiologic Catchment Area Replication.”
|Professor Hong Jin-pyo|
The researchers analyzed the association between body mass index (BMI) and suicide ideation and attempt, perceived stress in daily life, and life satisfaction.
Results showed that the underweight group, whose BMI was lower than 18.5, had 2.4 times higher risk of attempting suicide, compared to the normal weight group with BMI between 18.5 and 22.95. The assessments were statistically meaningful even after adjusting for psychiatric illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and alcohol disorder.
The underweight group also had 1.6 times higher risk of suicide ideation than the normal weight group and 1.3 times higher risk than the overweight group with BMI 25 or more.
The thin people also had 1.7 times higher level of “perceived stress” than the normal group. Their life dissatisfaction was 1.3 times more than people with normal weight.
“The study signals that mental health care in underweight adults, which have been overlooked, is critical. Efforts are needed to change Korean people’s obsessive culture of desiring a thinner body,” Hong said.
The study has been published in the latest edition of Psychiatry Investigation, an English academic journal of the Korean Neuropsychiatric Association.
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