In this article we take a look at the 25 most obese countries in the world. Click to skip ahead and jump to the 10 most obese countries in the world.
We might be in the middle of a life changing and history defining pandemic, which has cost more than a million lives and has resulted in the infection of over 32 million people at least. It has ruined economies and cost the livelihoods of tens of millions of people across the world. Even in the US alone, over 40 million filed for unemployment, though as businesses start opening back up, the number is going down as more businesses are hiring.
In the midst of what has been one of the most incredible and unbelievable year in recent memory, an epidemic which has been brewing for years if not the last few decades, has slipped in the back and isn't facing as much attention as it should be. I am of course talking about the global obesity epidemic, which should ideally be something the world is facing head on, as its effects are extremely visible. However, the epidemic not only doesn't show any signs of slowing down, it actually seems to be accelerating at an alarming rate.
Copyright: ximagination / 123RF Stock Photo
Obesity tends to affect all races and cultures, genders and ages. It doesn't discriminate at all, which is why it is even more dangerous. Further, obesity doesn't affect just underdeveloped countries, but also developed countries. In fact America is one of the 11 fattest countries in the world. Obesity is truly a global problem affecting hundreds of millions of people around the world. In 1995, we had 200 million obese adults and 18 million children under the age of 5 who were deemed overweight, which seems like a lot, but compared to today, seems like a dream. In 2016, there were 650 million people who were obese, while more than 1.9 billion adults, nearly forty percent of the global population, were overweight. Just focus on that statistic here. Nearly every second adult across the entire globe is overweight.
Want to hear another damning statistic? The majority of the world's population lives in countries where more people die of conditions related to being overweight rather than being underweight. In 2019, 38 million children under the age of 5 were overweight, while for the age group 5-19, an incredible 340 million children were overweight. The saddest thing about all of this? Obesity is preventable.
So what causes obesity and why has there been such a massive increase recently? The basic reason behind obesity is simply consuming more calories than you expend. Nowadays, fatty foods are all the rage and fast food has taken over the world. These foods have high fat and sugar, and result in the consumption of a lot more calories and bad fats than you should be taking. Global companies like The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE:KO), PepsiCo, Inc. (NASDAQ:PEP), Mondelez International, Inc. (NASDAQ:MDLZ), McDonald's Corporation (NYSE:MCD), and Yum! Brands, Inc. (NYSE:YUM) are among the companies that feast on consumers' inability to control their sugar and carb addictions.
On the other hand, we have also transitioned to a much more sedentary lifestyle, thanks to advances in technology and office jobs, which require very little movement. For traveling, we've got trains and planes and cars, when just a generation before us, people would walk a lot or cycle to most of their destinations. The combined effect of both of these incidences is that we now consume a lot more calories than we burn and that has seen us gain a lot of weight.
Fine, you may be thinking. So what if I'm fat? Are you fat shaming me? Everyone is beautiful in all shapes and sizes. To which I can only say, they may be beautiful in all shapes and sized, but they definitely won't be healthy. If you're overweight or obese, you are at much greater risk of cardiovascular disease which was the global leading cause of death in 2012. You can be at greater risk of suffering from diabetes, especially if you're in one of the states with the highest diabetes rates in the US. In addition, you can also face musculoskeletal disorders as well as several kinds of cancers, including breast, ovarian, kidney, colon and liver. So all things considered, obesity is one of the worst things you can do to yourself. Just to be clear, I am not saying that everyone should be a size zero, that's just an extremity at the other end, but that there is always a healthy balance. A good diet, and exercise, and that's all you really need. Of course, many underdeveloped and developing nations do not really have access to the relevant information and awareness regarding proper dietary habits, especially in rural areas, which can also significantly affect the country's health.
To come up with our rankings, we selected countries which had the highest obesity ratings on World Health Organization, for both 2015 and 2016, the latest years for which data is available. We then calculated the average of both these rankings, giving 60% weightage to 2016 since it was the latest year and 40% to the remaining year. So let's take a look at the countries where obesity is a huge threat to the life expectancy of the country. You can be sure that most of these countries won't be featured in the 25 countries with the highest life expectancy so let's take a look at which ones do, starting with number 25:
Bahrain is one of several Middle East countries facing an obesity epidemic, with the obesity rate at 29.8%, which shows that having a high standard of living also brings with it a risk of obesity if not done correctly.
The island of Fiji has an obesity rate of 30.2%, a slight increase from the previous year. Since 2002. the number has risen by 11% which is a major concern.
Iraq may be an impoverished nation, with high poverty and lack of a high standard of living but it also has a high obesity rate of 30.4%, due to not being aware of proper dietary habits.
22. New Zealand
I was actually surprised to see New Zealand in this list, as it also has a really high life expectancy. Till the age of 34, females are more likely to be obese than males, but over the age of 34, males are more likely to be obese than females.
While it's an amazing place to vacation in, the country's residents are actually facing an obesity problem, with 31.6% of the population currently obese, which is a slight increase over the previous year, but still very concerning nonetheless.
20. United Arab Emirates
The UAE and especially Dubai, is a rags to riches story, where a desert country discovered oil to amass vast wealth and enable it to create one of the most premium tourist destinations in the world right now. Family history, consumption of high fat food and a sedentary lifestyle are the primary reason behind an obesity rate of 31.7%.
Egypt has an obesity rate of 32%, which is primarily due to a lack of awareness of what constitutes a balanced diet along with a healthy lifestyle, and due to poverty being prevalent, low quality of ingredients being used.
Lebanon has an obesity crisis on its hand, in addition to more recent crisis such as the explosion of stored ammonium nitrate, causing dozens of deaths. But with a 32% obesity rate, it needs to have a long term plan to cut this down as well. A major campaign has been launched in this respect, the effectiveness of which remains to be seen.
Turkey has the highest obesity rate in Europe, an unfortunate accolade, with obesity rates of 32.1%, which is an increase of 0.6% as compared to the previous year. That's probably because Turkish food is irresistible.
We told you the Middle East has a strong presence in the list of most obese countries in the world, with Libya having an obesity rate of 32.5%. Being overweight is also has a strong presence in children in the country as well, in addition to adults, which shows the problem is across all age groups.
The number of overweight and obese people is around 70% in Qatar, while the obesity rate alone accounts for 35.1%, and in 2018, was one of the first countries in the world to start screenings its adult population for diabetes, which should help in fighting this disease.
14. Saudi Arabia
It may be one of the wealthiest countries in the Middle East, but there is a disparity of income in the country, which is part of the explanation behind the 35.4% obesity rate in the country. Another major reason is the sedentary lifestyle enjoyed by the population as most of the wealth comes from oil reserves.
Jordanians believe that obesity is prevalent in the country as the population consumes unhealthy food because they don't have the time needed for a nutritional and healthy lifestyle due to work pressure and social pressures and obligations as well, leading to an obesity rate of 35.5%.
12. United States of America
One of the few developed countries in the world to make this list is of course, the USA, where unhealthy lifestyles are almost a badge of honor in many ways. While on one end, working out and fitness is becoming a religion there, on the other end, fast food, large portions of unhealthy food and laziness are major contributors to an obesity rate of 36.2%, which in a country with a population of nearly 330 million is a very alarming statistic indeed.
The Middle East really needs to up its game against obesity and Kuwait is no exception, with an obesity rate of 37.9%.
Click to continue reading and see the 10 most obese countries in the world.
Disclosure: 25 Most Obese Countries In the World is originally published at Insider Monkey.