Relationships between Body Image, Body Mass Index, and Smoking in Korean Adolescents: Results of a Nationwide Korea Youth Risk Behavior Web-based Survey

  • Lee, Woo-Taek (Department of Medicine, Graduate School of Medicine, Yonsei University) ;
  • Kim, Hye In (Department of Medicine, Graduate School of Medicine, Yonsei University) ;
  • Kim, Jee Hoon (Department of Medicine, College of Medicine, Yonsei University) ;
  • Lee, Seok-Jin R (Department of Medicine, College of Medicine, Yonsei University) ;
  • Hong, Seri (Department of Medicine, Graduate School of Public Health, College of Medicine, Yonsei University) ;
  • Park, Eun-Cheol (Department of Medicine, Graduate School of Medicine, Yonsei University)
  • Published : 2015.10.06


Objective: This study assessed the association between subjective body image or objective body mass index (BMI) and the risk of daily smoking in Korean adolescents, with a purpose of identifying the most suitable models. Materials and Methods: Using the 2013 9th Korea Youth Risk Behavior Web-based Survey data for 72,435 students, odds ratios were calculated for daily smoking in the past month, according to the subjective body image and calculated BMI using a respective multiple logistic regression model. The combined effect of these two factors was also analyzed by pairing a BMI category with a subjective body image category, using odds ratios for the same event within each sex group. Results: Among the surveyed students, 7.2% of boys and 1.8% of girls were classified as daily smokers. Students who perceived themselves as being very obese tended to be at lower risk of daily smoking (OR=0.61 in boys with 95% CI=0.47 to 0.79; OR=0.66 in women with 95% CI=0.47 to 0.93). In addition, boys within the obese or overweight BMI category showed a lower risk of daily smoking (OR=0.86, 95% CI: 0.77-0.96). Lean BMI was significantly associated with higher odds ratios for daily smoking only in female students (OR=1.24, 95% CI: 1.02-1.52). When pairing these two objective and subjective factors, results suggested that subjective body image has a greater effect on daily smoking than BMI in both boys and girls. Conclusions: In both male and female students, subjective body image had a greater effect on daily smoking than body mass index. A model using the combination of BMI and subjective body image was the best fit in girls, in contrast to the model using subjective body image only best suitable in boys, for the prediction of daily smoking. These results including several factors associated with daily smoking in Korean students, provide useful data for the development and implementation of smoking intervention and cessation programs for adolescents.


Smoking;body mass index;body image;adolescent;behavior


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