Listed: 12 Fattest Countries in The World

Did you know that the number of obese people in the world has multiplied by three in the last 40 years? It is estimated that over 2 billion men and women in the world are overweight and around 700 million of them are obese. Yet, if we take a close look at the map, it turns out that there’s a pattern and some countries are way fatter than the others.

Overweight and obesity kill thousands of people every year. An improper score on the BMI (Body Mass Index) increases the risk of death and many different health problems. By analyzing the fattest countries in the world, we can understand what makes people fat and what we can all do about this to prevent it or reverse it.

  • Learn more about the countries with the highest share of obese people
  • Find out what these countries are doing to prevent this problem
  • Discover the things that make people around the world fat

Even though there are countries from almost all continents on this list, there are a few parts of the world where more people seem to be fat. Now let’s check the 13 fattest countries on our planet.

1. Saudi Arabia

Continent: Asia

Population: 34.1 million

Human Development Index: High

Percentage of obese adults: 35.4%

Life expectancy: 74.87 years

It turns out that people that live in desert climates can get obese too. Saudi Arabia has witnessed great economic progress in the last few decades and it seems that this progress has led to the emergence of a huge problem – obesity.

According to health officials in this country, this is one of the main causes of death in this Asian country in the last few years and the sad part is that in most cases these deaths can be prevented. As a result of this issue, the authorities are considering to provide obesity-related surgeries as part of the national Saudi healthcare system. Meanwhile, people are advised to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, something that is not easy to find in countries like this. The only positive thing is that the Human Development Index is growing and that the overall life expectancy is increasing.

  • Saudi Arabia is a country with the highest number of obese individuals in Asia
  • This is a country with a strong economy
  • It is possible for obesity-related surgeries to become covered by the national Saudi healthcare system in the near future

2. New Zealand

Continent: Oceania

Population: 4.9 million

Human Development Index: Very high

Percentage of obese adults: 30.8%

Life expectancy: 81.6 years

One of the most isolated countries (due to its specific location) is also one of the fattest countries in the world. Situated in Oceania, Australia is the only big country that’s close to New Zealand. Although the economy of this country is becoming stronger and people there are following the latest trends, it turns out that obesity is a huge problem there.

In 1975, around 11% of the population of New Zealand was obese. Today, this percentage has grown to over 30%. What makes this case interesting is that the native population (The Maori and other Polynesian ethnic groups that live in New Zealand) usually have a much higher rate of obesity compared to white people. Yet, this doesn’t mean that this is an ethnic or racial problem because the numbers have shown that all people are at risk. This includes the children because 21% of children are overweight.

  • New Zealand is a country located in Oceania with a population of almost 5 million
  • Native people (The Maori) are more affected by obesity compared to white people
  • Obesity in children is a serious problem here too

3. The Bahamas

Continent: North America

Population: 385.000

Human Development Index: Very high

Percentage of obese adults: 31.6%

Life expectancy: 75.68

The country situated within the Lucayan Archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean that consists of dozens of islands and islets is definitely a good spot for a vacation. However, visitors should probably avoid the eating habits of the local population because over 31% of the adults in The Bahamas are obese. This makes The Bahamas one of the fattest countries in the world.

The majority of the population (over 90%) is Black, but the studies have shown that overweight and obesity are on the rise among all ethnic groups and age groups. Another interesting (and alarming) fact is that the number of obese women here is almost twice higher compared to obese men. Around 12% of the children are obese too. Intake of highly processed foods, lack of physical activity, inadequate consumption of fruits – these are some of the reasons that lead to overweight and obesity in this country.

  • The Bahamas are home to around 385.000 people
  • Over 100,000 of them are obese
  • Lack of physical activity is one of the main causes of this problem

4. The UK

Continent: Europe

Population: 67.5 million

Human Development Index: Very high

Percentage of obese adults: 28.1%

Life expectancy: 80.1 years

Who says that a European country can’t be part of the list of the fattest countries in the world? There’s nothing for the British to be proud of when it comes to overweight and obesity, but the fact is that 28.1% of the adult population there is obese. Just like in the rest of the fattest countries, this is a modern problem. According to the latest projections, every third Brit could be obese by the end of 2020.

As a result of this growth of obese people, the number of diabetes sufferers, heart disease and cancer cases is increasing too. There are multiple causes of this phenomenon in the UK including excessive food intake, lack of physical activity and consumption of foods high in sugar and saturated fats. The government, healthcare professionals and food experts are trying to fight this problem starting from the schools where over 15% of children are obese.

  • The UK is the fattest country in Europe
  • There are many groups that are trying to fight this problem including the government
  • According to some sources, one-third of the population in this country will be obese by the end of the year 2020

5. The United States of America

Continent: North America

Population: 328 million

Human Development Index: Very high

Percentage of obese adults: 39.6%

Life expectancy: 78.69 years

The United States of America is a leader in many different fields. Unfortunately, this country is also the leader on the list of fattest countries in the world. Almost 40% of the people in the United States are obese. This has become a serious health issue in the last three decades because numerous cases of cancer, type 2 diabetes, coronary artery disease, and stroke have been associated with this problem.

Almost every year, the number of obese and overweight individuals is growing. Just like in the case of many other countries that are struggling with this problem, the racial profile of obese people is not the same in the US. For example, over 40% of African Americans and American Indians are obese. On the other hand, that percentage of Caucasian adults is 29.7%. Food labeling is one of the measures taken by federal and local governments in an effort to slow down the obesity epidemic.

  • The United States of America is the fattest country on the list
  • The number of obese and overweight people in this country is growing since the 1960s
  • African American and American Indians have the highest percentage of obese people

6. Turkey

Continent: Asia/Europe

Population: 82 million

Human Development Index: Very high

Percentage of obese adults: 32.10 %

Life expectancy: 75.76 years

Although there are other reasons why life expectancy in Turkey is relatively low, obesity definitely plays a role in this case. Turkey’s economy is becoming stronger and the quality of life is improving in this country, but the fact is that these positive trends are not followed by the healthy lifestyles of people who live there.

Over 65% of the population in Turkey is overweight and more than 30% are obese. This makes Turkey the fattest country in Europe, but only if we consider Turkey as a European country (most of its territory/population is in Asia). There’s something specific about obesity in this country. Namely, a significantly higher number of women are obese there. The fact that most women are housewives that practice a sedentary lifestyle is one of the main reasons for that.

  • Less than 10% of the adults in Turkey were obese in 1975
  • Today, the percentage of obese adults is over 30
  • More women are obese and overweight compared to men

7. Fiji

Continent: Oceania

Population: 920.000

Human Development Index: Very high

Percentage of obese adults: 30.2%

Life expectancy: 70.27 years

Many people know Fiji as one of the island countries that has the most beautiful beaches in the world. This country that consists of multiple islands has a population of less than a million. Yet, many of these people are obese. To be more precise over 3 out of 10 people in Fiji are struggling with obesity.

Processed food consumption is one of the main reasons why Fiji is among the fattest countries in the world. In addition, there are some cultural factors like the consumption of so-called local foods that contribute to this occurrence. The healthcare system, as well as public education, are not at a high level either. It’s also good to know that the image of beauty and power in this country is usually associated with large body size. So, it will take a while until most people there become aware of the importance of a healthy lifestyle and proper BMI.

  • Fijis is a Pacific island country
  • It has a population of fewer than one million people
  • Many cultural factors contribute to the occurrence of obesity in this Fiji

8. Egypt

Continent: Africa

Population: 100 million

Human Development Index: High

Percentage of obese adults: 32%

Life expectancy: 71.48 years

With a hot, sunny and dry climate, one might think that men and women in Egypt don’t have problems with extra pounds, but the truth is that Egypt is part of the group of the fattest countries in the world. For many years, Egypt has the highest average Body Mass Index in the world.

At the beginning of the 1990s, just like in many other places in the world, people in Egypt have started consuming more sugars, fat, and oils. In addition, men in Egypt are more attracted to heavier/fatter female bodies due to their traditions. Special events that are quite common in this country are often used as an excuse for heavy food consumption. All these things have made the population of this North African country fatter than ever.

  • Since the 1990s, Egypt has become one of the countries with the highest average Body Mass Index
  • Childhood obesity is a serious problem too
  • Feasts, festivals and the perception of the heavy female body as a healthy body are some of the things that affect this situation

9. Canada

Continent: North America

Population: 37.8 million

Human Development Index: Very high

Percentage of obese adults: 29.4%

Life expectancy: 82.30 years

The life expectancy of people in Canada is increasing every year and that’s a good thing. However, what’s worse is that the number of serious illnesses (like cancer, diabetes and health disease) is increasing too and obesity is one of the main causes of that. Most people in Canada have an excellent quality of life, yet many of them are following improper diets that lead to obesity.

According to some sources, obesity will become a more serious problem related to mortality compared to smoking in the next few years. Canada is made of a few territories, and what’s interesting is that there’s a great difference between them when it comes to the percentage of adult obesity. For instance, just 16% of people that live in British Columbia are obese compared to 33.7% of people in the Northwest Territories. Due to their specific diet, the native people in Canada are prone to obesity.

  • Just 9.8% of Canadians were obese in 1975 compared to almost 30% in 2019
  • There’s a difference between people who live in different regions
  • The native people in Canada are prone to obesity

10. The United Arab Emirates

Continent: Asia

Population: 9.6 million

Human Development Index: Very high

Percentage of obese adults: 31.7%

Life expectancy: 77.26 years

It was the oil that made the United Arab Emirates one of the wealthiest countries in the world. But, maybe this is also the reason why we can find it on the list of fattest countries on our planet too. If we take a look at the stats, we will notice that even in the 1970s, the average weight of people in the UAE was higher compared to many other countries. Today, this percentage is almost 32.

Obesity has become a serious health problem that is often highlighted by the authorities. As previously mentioned, this is a preventable cause of death which makes the situation worse. In the past, the UAE was often found in the first place of the list of fattest countries. The reason why they are not number one anymore is the faster growth of obesity cases in a few other countries.

  • The UAE is a relatively small and rich country in Asia
  • People were overweight there even before the economy of this country started growing fast
  • The authorities have started taking measures to fight this health problem

11. Argentina

Continent: South America

Population: 45 million

Human Development Index: Very high

Percentage of obese adults: 28.3%

Life expectancy: 76.58 years

The birthplace of the tango is also among the fattest countries in the world. Obviously, there are many people that can dance too much because they have problems with their weight. Argentina is the leader in South America when it comes to obesity. Over 28% of the people who live there are obese and millions more are overweight.

The stats related to this problem are horrifying. It seems that there’s a growth of around 0.5% every year. Low intake of fruits and veggies has been identified as one of the main causes of this issue. Added sugar intake is on the rise too, but that’s an unhealthy trend that we can see around the globe. The government in Argentina is considering strict food regulations to protect the nation including food warning labels.

  • Argentina is the fattest country in South America
  • People in Argentina are not fans of fruits and vegetables
  • The government has not yet imposed strict food regulations

12. Lebanon

Continent: Asia

Population: 6.8 million

Human Development Index: High

Percentage of obese adults: 32%

Life expectancy: 79.58 years

The political crisis and internal conflicts in this Middle Eastern country have done a lot of damage to its progress, but it seems that people who live there have not stopped eating more than they should eat. From 11.1% of obese people in the 1970s, Lebanon has over 32% obese men and women today. This means that the number is almost tripled in the last 45 years.

It’s difficult to separate one reason that has led to this unhealthy trend, but many experts suggest that the fact that thousands of Lebanese people have replaced their healthy Mediterranean diet with fast food has affected the numbers. Non-smokers, low-educated people and people with family members that have struggled with obesity were more prone to have an increased BMI.

  • Lebanon is one of the fattest countries in the Middle East
  • More men are obese than women
  • Many people have given up on the traditional healthy Mediterranean diet

13. Australia

Continent: Australia

Population: 25.6 million

Human Development Index: Very high

Percentage of obese adults: 29%

Life expectancy: 82.50 years

Although people in Australia are generally healthier compared to other English-speaking countries, the obesity epidemic has struck this country too. There’s an increasing frequency of obesity cases in the last decade. Some experts in this field have been able to associate the rise of obesity with the availability of fast food (since the middle of the 1970s) as well as with physically inactive lifestyles. The percentage of obese children in Australia is 8 which is another alarming information.

As you are probably aware, Australia is an ethnically and racially diverse country. It turns out that there’s a group of people that are more prone to obesity and this group is the indigenous Australians. It’s believed that the percentage of obese indigenous Australians is around 35%. It’s also worth mentioning that many immigrants that have settled in Australia tend to get fatter faster than usual.

  • Australia is one of the fattest countries in the world
  • The indigenous people in Australia are usually fatter than the rest of the population
  • Sedentary lifestyle and fast food have led to many cases of obesity
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