‘The World is Flat’, says Thomas Friedman about the 21st century. It is also fat, and probably owing to its flat nature, it has opened up borders and exchanged cultures. This Buzzle article elaborates on the top 13 fattest countries in the world.
● More than half a billion adults across the world are obese.
● Approximately a third of the population in the United States is obese.
Most of us would presume that the United States is the most obese country in the world, which apparently is not the truth. The good news is that, it ranks after some totally unexpected ones, that top the list of the most obese populations in the world.
The World Health Organization defines overweight and obesity as ‘abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health’. Highly processed, high-sugar content food, and soda drinks are to blame. Not that we don’t know this, but as nutrition experts say, these non-nutritious comfort foods are addictive. All that yummy stuff satisfies only the taste buds, without doing any good. So, we crave for more and more. What it has resulted in is a serious health concern for the entire world.
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Most obese populations are associated with high-income countries, as people in these countries register a higher body mass index. As compared to low-income countries, the populations in these nations are generally more prone to obesity. Another interesting thing to note is that, women are scoring higher than men in this field, except in the high-income countries, where it is nearly the same for both.
Rank (give a rank from 1 to 6) the following regions of the world according to their population percentage being overweight, 1 being the fattest of all.
South East Asia
Obese Countries (World Health Organization Statistics)
The percentage of population in a country is categorized to be overweight or obese depending on the Body Mass Index (BMI). A BMI greater than or equal to 25 is defined as overweight, and a BMI greater than or equal to 30 equals obesity.
This list of the fattest nations in the world is based on The Global Health Observatory (GHO) Data (2014). It provides statistics of the percentage prevalence (figure in brackets) of overweight among all WHO regions.
1. Cook Islands (79.4)
A popular tourist destination in the Pacific, this country imports a whopping 82% of its food intake. The reason behind this nation ranking first lies in its altered eating habits. Imported, processed, and low-nutrient foods have replaced the traditional diet of the locals. Surprisingly, about 81% of adult deaths here are attributed to non-communicable diseases like heart ailments and diabetes.
2. Qatar (77.8)
Half of the adult population of this Arab country, located in the Persian Gulf, is obese. Besides several fast food joints, meager exercise has been contributing to this problem. With 17% of the population suffering from diabetes, people here are observed to develop this illness at a younger age.
3. Palau (77.6)
An archipelago of over 500 islands, Palau is a part of Micronesia. Around 12 percent of the young high school students are obese in Palau. Lack of physical activity and poor dietary intake is the culprit in making it one of the fattest nations around.
4. Nauru (75.5)
Popularity of Western fast food is to be blamed for Nauru’s rapidly growing obesity. The average BMI count for this country comes to around 34 to 35. With this high proportion of corpulence, scientists have notified the risk of a pandemic of cardiovascular disease.
5. Kuwait (75.2)
Over 40% of individuals in this nation are obese; the prevalence of overweight and obesity among women is found to be particularly high. The immense flow of prosperity coming in from oil reserves has led to drastic changes in the lifestyle of inhabitants here, causing corpulence. Kuwait was known to have witnessed some 5,000 bariatric operations in the year 2011.
6. UAE (73.1)
Growing income levels, international fast food chains, easy access to cars, and use of salty, fatty processed foods, are some causes that make UAE appear in this list. Obesity is on the rise generally in all the Gulf countries, more so due to the process of urbanization.
7. Marshall Islands (72.7)
Traditional food items, including fresh fish, meat, and locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables have been substituted with rice, sugar, canned meat, flour, and canned fruits and vegetables, in Marshall Islands today. Residents also consume soft drinks and beer in significant proportions, unlike earlier. In the year 2008, there existed about 8,000 patients of diabetes just within a small population of a little over 50,000.
8. USA (72.1)
The most popularly known and ranked country, the United States mainly has its peculiar lifestyle to criticize. Consumption of unhealthy, high-calorie, and junk food, along with less or no physical activity, overeating and oversized food proportions, food advertising, and stressful work schedules are the major factors that continue to feed the ‘fat’ monster in America.
9. Andorra (72)
Unlike other nations, in Andorra, more males were found to be overweight than females, in a 2008 survey conducted by WHO. This is a Western European country that has one of the highest cholesterol levels.
10. Niue (71.4)
A common problem faced by many Pacific nations, including Niue, is that of heavy industrialization, mining activities for instance, which has decreased the availability of productive farm land. This, in turn, has increased their food imports, compromising on the healthier traditional eating habits.
11. Bahrain (70.2)
A research study by ‘ResearchGate’ mentions obesity to be more prevalent among adolescents and adults, typically among the young women of Bahrain. Factors like size of the family, education of parents, and whether there is a history of obesity in the family, were observed to be associated with boys and girls being overweight. However, on the positive side, the Health Ministry of Bahrain, and nutrition clinics, have been successful in promoting healthier lifestyles for over five years now.
12. Tonga (69.9)
A kingdom located in Polynesia features in this list, thanks to a lot of fat-rich dishes served on the menus here. Varieties of meat are a norm during frequent feasts, where beef is almost like staple food in Tonga. The former activities of fishing and farming do not keep the people busy anymore, leading to lesser physical exertion.
13. Australia (69.9)
In Australia, obesity has become a severe public health issue, surpassing even smoking as a major cause of illness. Sedentary activities and unhealthy eating habits are the prime causes, which are also observed to be transferred to children from their parents, leading to what is called childhood obesity.
According to the statistics on international obesity, as given by ‘Clinic Compare’, a UK-based company that provides medical advice, the first nine spots are taken up by tiny looking Pacific Islands. Given below is their list of the most obese countries, with the percentage of population regarded as obese indicated in brackets.
- American Samoa (74.6)
- Nauru (71.1)
- Cook Islands (63.4)
- Tokelau (63.4)
- Tonga (57.6)
- Samoa (54.1)
- Palau (48.9)
- Kiribati (46)
- Marshall Islands (45.4)
- Kuwait (42)
Many nations around the world are trying their level best to prevent this public health menace from developing further; one such initiative being the nutritious meal given to school students in Brazil. Their law asks for 70% of the food served to children to be unprocessed, and 30% to be sourced locally.