Obesity is more prevalent among men than women, but with age, it becomes a more serious issue for women.
According to a recent report by the Korean Society for the Study of Obesity, obesity peaked among men in their late 30s with 45.3 percent to decrease steadily after that.
In contrast, obesity of women in their late 20s stayed at a mere 11.1 percent, but they showed a steady upward trend as soon as they hit their 30s, surpassing their male counterparts when they reached their late 60s with 40.3 percent.
Women have a slower metabolism, which makes it easier to accumulate fat with age. A decrease in female hormones after menopause further reduces muscles and increases body fat.
Kang Jae-heon at Seoul Paik Hospital said, "Many middle-aged women have difficulty keeping in shape."
Despite a heavy load of housework, they often do less physical activity than they did when they were young. Besides, even if they have the same amount of intake, they can easily gain weight as their body requires fewer calories with age.
Obesity raises the risk of various chronic illnesses like diabetes and hypertension as well as breast cancer. Among obese women in their late 60s, about one-third have excessive belly fat, which can lead to cancer, heart disease and stroke.
"Decreasing metabolism is the major cause of obesity among elderly women. Therefore, it is important to do more light workouts such as walking, and if they have problems with joints, use an indoor bike or go swimming," said Kang.