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Obesity and High Myopia in Children and Adolescents: Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey


Lee S, Lee HJ, Lee KG, and Kim J.


National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) grant funded by the Korea government (MSIT)




PLoS One


  • The prevalence of both obesity and myopia are increasing in Korean children and adolescents. 

  • The purpose of this study is to examine the impact of obesity on the prevalence of myopia in Korean children and adolescents.

  • This study used the data of a nationally representative cross-sectional survey, the Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (KNHANES) VII conducted from 2016 to 2018. Of the 1237 children and adolescents aged 5-18 years who participated in the KNHANES VII and underwent ophthalmologic examinations for the survey, 1114 were selected for review, excluding those whose data on refractive error, family history of myopia, or waist circumference were missing. 

  • Body mass index (BMI) was classified into four groups: underweight (< 5th percentile), normal weight (≥ 5th percentile, < 85th percentile), overweight (≥ 85th percentile, < 95th percentile), and obese (≥ 95th percentile). 

  • Myopia was defined by the level of refractive error ≤ -0.5 diopters (D) and classified as mild (≤ -0.5 D, > -3.0 D), moderate (≤ -3.0 D, > -6.0 D), or high (≤ -6.0 D) myopia. T

  • he relationship between BMI and myopia was analyzed using complex sample logistic regression. Age and family history were corrected followed by an analysis of the odds ratios.

  • Compared to those with normal weights (controls), being underweight, overweight, or obese showed no significant odds of developing mild and moderate myopia. Conversely, when compared with that of controls, the odds ratio of developing high myopia in the underweight, overweight, and obese groups was 0.77 (95% CI, 0.22-2.65), 1.37 (95% CI, 0.51-3.66), and 3.77 (95% CI, 1.98-7.16), respectively. 

  • Furthermore, in a separate analysis by sex and BMI, the odds ratio of developing high myopia was 2.84 (95% CI, 1.10-7.35) in boys with obesity and 4.23 (95% CI,1.19-15.09) and 5.04 (95% CI,1.77-14.34) in overweight and obese girls, respectively.

  • An association exists between obesity in childhood and adolescence and high myopia. Being overweight in girls was also found to be associated with high myopia. 

  • Thus, efforts to maintain a healthy weight during childhood and adolescence are of great importance.