Korean J Fam Pract 2019; 9(4): 373-382  https://doi.org/10.21215/kjfp.2019.9.4.373
Differences between One-Person and Multi-Person Households on Socioeconomic Status, Health Behavior, and Metabolic Syndrome Across Gender and Age Groups
Young Kyung Cho1, Kyung Won Shim1,*, Hye Won Suk2, Hong Soo Lee1, Sang Wha Lee1, A Ri Byun1, Han Na Lee1
1Department of Family Medicine, Ewha Womans University Mokdong Hospital, Ewha Womens University school of Medicine; 2Department of Psychology, Sogang University, Seoul, Korea
Kyung Won Shim
Tel: +82-2-2650-5165, Fax: +82-2-2654-2439
E-mail: ewhashim@ewha.ac.kr
ORCID: http://orcid.org/0000-0001-8289-9301
Received: August 7, 2018; Revised: April 2, 2019; Accepted: July 17, 2019; Published online: August 20, 2019.
© The Korean Academy of Family Medicine. All rights reserved.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0) which permits unrestricted noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Background: The rising popularity of one-person households makes the health hazards they are prone to, highly relevant in epidemiological studies. This study aimed at comparing health-related characteristics like the socioeconomic status, health behavior, and metabolic syndrome of one-person households, to multi-person households in Korea.
Methods: The participants required for this study included 9,423 Koreans aged 19 and above, who took the Sixth Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The household types were classified into “one-person” and “multi-person.” The differences between the two, based on their annual socioeconomic status, health behavior, anthropometric variables, and blood test results were analyzed.
Results: The percentage of men and women in one-person households was 7.2% and 10.5%, respectively. Such households had a lower annual income and education than multi-person households. The odds ratios (OR) for alcohol consumption (OR, 1.69; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.16–2.46) and smoking (OR, 3.24; 95% CI, 1.77–5.95) were significantly higher for one-person households of women, aged 60 and above, compared to multi-person households. The OR for metabolic syndrome was considerably higher in one-person households of middle-aged people in contrast to multi-person households for both men (OR, 1.84; 95% CI, 1.14–2.95) and women (OR, 1.90; 95% CI, 1.21–2.99).
Conclusion: The socioeconomic status was lower, and the health behaviors were worse in one-person households as compared to multi-person households. Considering the growing popularity of one-person households, it is suggested that medical plans be customized to suit the characteristics of the specific group.
Keywords: Family Characteristics; Social Class; Health Behavior; Metabolic Syndrome
  1. Jung K, Nam S, Jung E, Lee J, Lee Y, Kim J, et al. Policy implications of changes in family structure: focused on the increase of single person households in Korea. Sejong: Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs; 2012. Report No.: 2012-47-25.
  2. Statistics Korea. Household projections 2010-2035 [Internet]. Daejeon: Statistics Korea; 2012. [cited 2016 Dec 26].
  3. Han J, Lee Y. Analysis of the effect of increase of one person household on consumer spending. KIET Mon Ind Econ 2013; 6: 22-31.
  4. Kim C, Ko MH, Kim MJ, Kim J, Kim HJ, Moon JH, et al. [The life of elderly women living alone]. J Korean Acad Nurs 2008; 38: 739-47. Korean.
    Pubmed CrossRef
  5. Kang HY, Seo NS, Kim YH. [Health pattern of elderly according to age group who living alone in an urban area]. Taehan Kanho Hakhoe Chi 2004; 34: 1057-68. Korean.
    Pubmed CrossRef
  6. Davis MA, Moritz DJ, Neuhaus JM, Barclay JD, Gee L. Living arrangements, changes in living arrangements, and survival among community dwelling older adults. Am J Public Health 1997; 87: 371-7.
    Pubmed KoreaMed CrossRef
  7. Hedblad B, Jonsson S, Nilsson P, Engström G, Berglund G, Janzon L. Obesity and myocardial infarction--vulnerability related to occupational level and marital status. A 23-year follow-up of an urban male Swedish population. J Intern Med 2002; 252: 542-50.
    Pubmed CrossRef
  8. Kim YJ. Comparison of health practices between single- and multiplemember households by gender in korean adults. J Korean Public Health Nurs 2009; 23: 219-31.
  9. Nielsen KM, Faergeman O, Larsen ML, Foldspang A. Danish singles have a twofold risk of acute coronary syndrome: data from a cohort of 138 290 persons. J Epidemiol Community Health 2006; 60: 721-8.
    Pubmed KoreaMed CrossRef
  10. Kim J, Chu SK, Kim K, Moon JR. Alcohol use behaviors and risk of metabolic syndrome in South Korean middle-aged men. BMC Public Health 2011; 11: 489.
    Pubmed KoreaMed CrossRef
  11. Lee WY, Jung CH, Park JS, Rhee EJ, Kim SW. Effects of smoking, alcohol, exercise, education, and family history on the metabolic syndrome as defined by the ATP III. Diabetes Res Clin Pract 2005; 67: 70-7.
    Pubmed CrossRef
  12. Oh SW, Yoon YS, Lee ES, Kim WK, Park C, Lee S, et al.; Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Association between cigarette smoking and metabolic syndrome: the Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Diabetes Care 2005; 28: 2064-6.
    Pubmed CrossRef
  13. Park HS, Oh SW, Cho SI, Choi WH, Kim YS. The metabolic syndrome and associated lifestyle factors among South Korean adults. Int J Epidemiol 2004; 33: 328-36.
    Pubmed CrossRef
  14. Park SH, Kang YH, Park HY. Alcohol consumption and the coronary heart disease-related risk factors in Korean adults: the Third Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (KNHANES III), 2005. Korean J Nutr 2008; 41: 232-41.
  15. Kim YJ. Association of family composition and metabolic syndrome in Korean adults aged over 45 years old. Asian Nurs Res (Korean Soc Nurs Sci) 2015; 9: 349-55.
    Pubmed CrossRef
  16. Zimmet P, Magliano D, Matsuzawa Y, Alberti G, Shaw J. The metabolic syndrome: a global public health problem and a new definition. J Atheroscler Thromb 2005; 12: 295-300.
    Pubmed CrossRef
  17. Bianchi G, Rossi V, Muscari A, Magalotti D, Zoli M; Pianoro Study Group. Physical activity is negatively associated with the metabolic syndrome in the elderly. QJM 2008; 101: 713-21.
    Pubmed CrossRef
  18. Lee MH, Kim HC, Thomas GN, Ahn SV, Hur NW, Choi DP, et al. Familial concordance of metabolic syndrome in Korean population--Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005. Diabetes Res Clin Pract 2011; 93: 430-6.
    Pubmed CrossRef
  19. Park MJ, Yun KE, Lee GE, Cho HJ, Park HS. A cross-sectional study of socioeconomic status and the metabolic syndrome in Korean adults. Ann Epidemiol 2007; 17: 320-6.
    Pubmed CrossRef
  20. Park YW, Zhu S, Palaniappan L, Heshka S, Carnethon MR, Heymsfield SB. The metabolic syndrome: prevalence and associated risk factor findings in the US population from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1988-1994. Arch Intern Med 2003; 163: 427-36.
    Pubmed KoreaMed CrossRef
  21. World Health Organization. The Asia-Pacific perspective: redefining obesity and its treatment. Sydney: Health Communications Australia; 2000.
  22. Yun EH, Kang YH, Lim MK, Oh JK, Son JM. The role of social support and social networks in smoking behavior among middle and older aged people in rural areas of South Korea: a cross-sectional study. BMC Public Health 2010; 10: 78.
    Pubmed KoreaMed CrossRef
  23. Hawk W. Household spending by single persons and married couples in their twenties: a comparison. In: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, ed. Consumer expenditure survey anthology, 2011. Washington: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; 2011. p. 40-6.
  24. Sobal J, Rauschenbach BS, Frongillo EA Jr. Marital status, fatness and obesity. Soc Sci Med 1992; 35: 915-23.
    Pubmed CrossRef

This Article