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Weight loss surgery to be covered by nat'l health insurance

2018/02/07 10:39

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SEOUL, Feb. 7 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will extend its national insurance coverage to patients with obesity problems starting in November, health authorities said Wednesday.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare and the National Health Insurance Service said insurance coverage will be provided for weight loss surgery, such as lap-band, gastric bypass and other surgical treatments.

A growing number of South Koreans are struggling with their body weight, with the obesity rate among adults hitting 33.55 percent in 2016. Noticeably, 5.31 percent of adults were regarded as highly obese.

The ministry said obesity is a disease that brings various complications, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases, particularly among adult males.

Recent studies have shown that surgical procedures are more effective than non-surgical treatment at treating morbid obesity, despite high costs.

Those who have a body mass index (BMI) -- a measure of body fat based on height and weight -- of 25 or higher are regarded as overweight. Those with a BMI between 30 and 35 are classified as obese and those over 35 as highly obese.