Top 10 Fattest Countries In The World – 2017 List

It’s no secret that the world has been consistently getting more and more fat over the years. In nearly every country obesity rates are on the rise: in poor countries and rich countries, in young people and old. The causes of increased obesity are easy to trace and not difficult to understand. More and more people are moving to cities. In cities, there is higher access to inexpensive, unhealthy food. People don’t need to move around as much, and often spend entire days at desks or behind computers where they don’t burn enough of the calories that they’re consuming. Our access to junk food and soda has never been greater, and our lives are becoming more and more sedentary. In 2017, around forty percent of the adults in the world can be classified as overweight. In over a hundred countries across the world, more than half of the adult population is overweight.

Millions of people are dying from obesity-related issues every year. Instances of diabetes, heart disease, and other problems are on the rise. The global food supply has seen a steady increase, which obviously has huge benefits across the world. At the same time, countries haven’t really been able to reverse their troubling obesity rates. Many Americans have the idea that they probably live in the fattest country in the world. While this isn’t true, they do crack the top ten. This list is organized by percentage of the population that can be classified as being obese. Behold, the ten fattest countries in the world this year.

The Top 10 Fattest Countries In The World – 2017 Update

#10 – United States – 31.8%

usa-fat

The US has a reputation across the world for being one of the fattest countries. It is perceived by many countries as being a decadent country. Documentaries like “Supersize Me” have outlined the country’s seeming addiction to junk food and disregard for basic ideas with regards to healthy eating and living. So, it isn’t as bad as it seems, with the United States at number ten on this list, with less than a third of its population qualifying as obese. Still, it stands out on this list because it has a way higher standard of living than any of these other countries. It is the richest and most powerful country in the world, and as such, it should not be so far behind comparable countries when it comes to the health of its population. There are, of course, other issues that the United States struggles with when compared to similar western countries, such as literacy, equality, and safety. The good news for the United States is that the amount of overweight people has been dropping lately. The bad news is that the percentage of people who are obese has been on the rise.

#9 – Mexico – 32.8%

mexico-fat

Coming in at ninth on this list of the fattest countries in the world is Mexico, with a rate of obesity at just under a third of the population. Like in the United States, the percentage of overweight and obese people in the country is considered to be a serious issue of national health. A key contributor to the high rate of obesity in Mexico is that the general population was only introduced to the highly processed, fatty, and sugary foods of other western countries fairly recently. Up until around the 1980s, a typical diet in Mexico was made up mostly of fresh produce and natural ingredients. Mexico is said to be the world’s largest consumer of Coca Cola, and it is clear that its population drinks way too much soda. As a reaction to this, the government recently announced a tax on soda. They’ve added a tax of around one peso to the price of each soda, which is meant to slow down the rate at which Mexicans are drinking the unhealthy beverages. It’s still too soon to tell if the soda tax in Mexico has had a positive effect on the health of the country.

#8 – Qatar – 33.1%

Qatari children in traditional outfits eating fast food in a Doha shopping mall.. Image shot 11/2005. Exact date unknown.

When a country is able to quickly become rich from its natural resources, there are two ways it can impact public health. One is that the health of the country can improve, as food becomes more available and of higher quality, along with better sanitation and safety standards. Unfortunately, in Qatar, the great upswing in the wealth of the country came with a downturn in the health of the country. Qatar is the richest country in the world if you look at their per capita income. It’s said to be the most developed Arab state, and has a huge impact on world politics when you consider its small size and population. However, some say that half of Qatar’s population may be obese, and they are facing a crisis in rising childhood diabetes rates. Western fast food chains have popped up everywhere in Qatar. The rapid modernization and growth of the country has likely led to a more sedentary lifestyle. These and other factors have combined to put Qatar on this list of the world’s fattest countries.

#7 – South Africa – 33.5%

south-africa-fat

South Africa is the first of a few African nations that appear on this list. Many African countries struggle with high instances of poverty and undernourishment, caused by an inadequate food supply, inequality, and bad food distribution systems. However, in many countries with high rates of hunger, obesity is also on the rise. It seems crazy, but the number of obese people in developing countries is said to have tripled or quadrupled in the last few decades. This is surely a result of grossly unhealthy food that causes people to become overweight but still doesn’t nourish them properly. It is also the result of extreme inequality and corruption. In South Africa, some say that nearly half of the country’s total deaths are caused by heart attacks and strokes, which usually can be traced to being overweight or obese.

#6 – United Arab Emirates – 33.7%

uae-fat

United Arab Emirates shares many of its causes and effects of obesity with Dubai. Oil wealth came to the country too quickly and with it came a western-style diet of fast food that the population wasn’t used to. In the US, obesity rates are way higher in men than women. In UAE, the opposite is true, with around six percent more females being obese than males in the country. Some people also point out historical reasons for obesity in countries like UAE. Historically, being fat could be seen as a sign of wealth or power in the Arab world. It could be the case that these ideas still prevail in some societies and that misinformation exists about the health risks of maintaining an obese body type.

#5 – Jordan – 34.3%

jordan-fat

Jordan has similarities with UAE when it comes to its obesity problem. For one, obesity is far more common in women than in men. The difference is especially stark in Jordan, with almost twice as many woman that are obese as men. A connection has been drawn between age of marriage and obesity in this country. With marriage comes a restricted lifestyle, unemployment, and a kind of existence that is conducive to weight gain. As well as getting married early, the World Health Organization has looked at smoking and wealth as other factors that contribute to the high rate of obesity in Jordan and place it among the fattest countries.

#4 – Egypt – 34.6%

Egypt obesity problem

Like many countries on this list of the fattest countries in the world, the problems in Egypt have been caused at least partially by rapid industrialization. In Egypt, the percentage of fat people in the cities is twice as big as the percentage of fat people in more rural areas. An abundance of cheap, fast food that isn’t nourishing combined with a less active lifestyle is a dangerous mix. The results have been especially saddening in Egypt. Egypt has the highest diabetes rates in the world, and teenagers in the country drink an alarming amount of soda, making it the fattest country in Africa.

#3 – Belize – 34.9%

belize-fat

It’s always worrying to see a country quickly climb a list of the fattest countries like this. While the obesity problem in countries like Egypt has been pretty widely talked about and documented for at least a few decades, Belize was not thought of as a nation with an obesity problem until recently. If you’re not familiar with Belize, it’s in Central America, just south of Mexico, and the official language of Belize is English. It is the only Central American country that makes this list. However, that doesn’t mean that obesity isn’t a problem in the area. We’ve already discussed Mexico, but Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago are also countries with serious obesity issues. Further south, obesity rates are also on the rise in the wealthier South American countries like Chile and Argentina.

#2 – Saudi Arabia – 35.2%

saudi-fat

Another country that has seen a shocking rise when it comes to its status among the fattest countries in the world is Saudi Arabia. Less than a decade ago, a study put together by Forbes found that Saudi Arabia barely cracked the top thirty fattest countries. Today, its obesity problem is the second worst in the world. Over a third of the women in Saudi Arabia are said to struggle from health issues or complications that are a direct result of weight issues. Some studies claim that the obesity problem in Saudi Arabia may be much worse than the number listed here, with numbers as high as 70% being published. Like many countries on this list, the rate of diabetes is rising quickly. In Saudi Arabia, obesity-related problems aren’t included in health insurance plans. This means that people in Saudi Arabia are paying large amounts of money as a result of issues and diseases that they struggle with as a result of obesity.

#1 – Kuwait – 42.8%

kuwait-fat

Kuwait has become king of the fattest countries in the world in recent years. It is commonly said that their love for fast food has lead to the alarmingly high rates of obesity. 13% of the people in the entire world are said to be obese. Over three times this percentage are obese in Kuwait. The definition of overweight is a BMI of 25 or more, and the definition of obese is a DMI of 30 or more. The high consumption of fast food in Kuwait has lead to introduction of another American idea: stomach stapling. Kuwait is said to have the highest rates of stomach stapling of any country.  Around five thousand stomach staple procedures are performed in a given year in a country with a pretty small population of around three and a half million people. Like other countries on this list, the increased prosperity from oil, the influx of American food, and different cultural ideas about weight and eating have lead to very high rates of overweight and obese people in Kuwait.


  • Christine

    Robert Lustig thinks that these Arab countries are fat because they don’t have free access to alcohol so they drink a lot of sugar sweetened soda. Makes perfect sense

    • http://darvishzadeh.com/ Sonny Darvishzadeh

      what’s free access to alcohol?

      • Christine

        Good question. How available is alcohol in some of these countries? Is it like in the U.S. where they sell beer in 7-Eleven? Dr. Lustig was postulating that the climate is hot and soda is refreshing in the heat so there could be a correlation if there is low availability of a alternative like alcohol. Observational data at best – could be worth looking into.

      • Priscilla Gagnon

        There’s lots of bootlegged or smuggled alcohol, but it’s all done secretly. This is generally true among the higher class more indolent. The sincere working Kuwaiti generally does not drink. Alcohol is freely available in the UAE and Qatar as well as Bahrain.

        • Geo

          That’s only because the Emirates and Qatar have workers from Christian and hindu countries under their Khalifa system who do drink, and it’s an accommodation for them, to Muslims Alcohol is a sin, they won’t even use hand sanitizer.

    • Priscilla Gagnon

      I think, as a person who has lived in the Middle East for many years, that it is more that the perception of the fat person is not as negative. Fat women are not stigmatized as being unbeautiful. There is also minimal recognition of the health detriments of obesity with fitness not being as much in the forefront. In actual fact, a woman with large buttocks and large breasts is considered very desirable and it is very common.

      Another factor is the enveloping clothing: it is very easy to become very large since the traditional clothing of both men and woman is loose and flowing and totally non-restrictive…

      • tms5510

        perhaps in Arab countries but not for example in Iran

    • http://www.spiralsnail.com/ Sherine Khalil

      Alcohol is fattening.

      • J. Smith

        Not as fattening as soda

    • Geo

      alcohol is haram in the Arab world, it’s considered sinful and evil to drink alcohol. Prohibition is alive and well in those countries.

  • Marie Halligan

    I remember I did notice how many very fat people there were around the place when I was in Egypt; I was rather surprised because it is by no means a wealthy country,but it does make sense that it could be due to drinking too much in the way of sugary,fizzy drinks. Egyptian tea is sugary too!

    • MK

      I’d say it has more to do with how as a rural country, people needed lots of carbs to cover the high physical activity they carried out. Today there’s less physical activity and less agriculture in rural areas but the same food habits have continued.

      • Marie Halligan

        It could be that but the majority of the very overweight people I am referring to were from Cairo- the hotel had offered cut-price long weekends to Egyptians whilst we were there and if I lived in Cairo, especially Giza and I got an offer to escape to Sharm-el-Sheik for a long w/e ,I’d be off like a shot, too! Cairo is a wretched place!

        • MK

          For economic reasons, a lot of the people in Cairo today have actually migrated from other rural areas in Egypt over time- that’s been the case for the last ten years. The same food habits have continued with declining physical activity so obesity is the result. Haha I love Cairo, but I would take up Sharm elSheikh any day.

          • Marie Halligan

            Ah yes,sorry,I remember being told that around 2 million people come into Cairo everyday from the countryside for work,and it would make sense that people would move permanently for work and an improved standard of living too.Of course,I only spent a day in Cairo,so I have no idea what it would be like to live there;it was the lack of greenery that got to me,I live in Ireland so it was a huge difference. Also,the poverty seemed very grinding and the HUGE teeming masses of humanity! There are more than five times the amount of people in Cairo alone than live on the entire island of Ireland. Sharm-el-Sheik is lovely though, I wouldn’t blame you for wanting to live there- Charming Sharm!

    • Alex

      We do have sort of healthy food & non-sugary as well, so next time when you visit Egypt let me list them for you ?

      • Marie Halligan

        Oh I know- there was plenty salad,fresh fruit and chicken and fish around,I only put on a small bit of weight.The tea in the hotel was grand,just ordinary tea which one could have without sugar.I did like the Egyptian tea, though- it’s different from the ordinary stuff and it gave me a bit of high! I was on a horse-riding day trip and after I had it I was like a Hun above on the horse,I felt so confident! Tell me,is there something in it that would give you a buzz,lol??

  • Chasity

    Amazing US isn’t rated higher!?! Majority of our “poor” are obese. There are no regulations on food-stamps anymore. Food-stamps used to only buy healthy foods. Fruits, vegetables, milk etc… Now, they can purchase anything. Of course, if someone is gonna be givin’ the option to choose candy bars, and or fruits, beans, vegetables…
    They’re gonna choose the junk food everytime!

    • GetBigGirlPanties

      That’s not even true. And past of the problem is that you can buy a lot more junk food for the same amount of money as a little bit of healthy food…

    • Victoria Cavatina

      A small box of fruit will cost at least $3, worth three McDonald’s sandwiches. Which is going to keep you more full?

    • Geo

      The case is by percent of the nation, if you look at the US Population, which is 300 million, 33% is 100 million fat americans, which means if you has who has the most fat people it’s the USA, when it comes to who has the highest ratio of fat people in a country, then it’s Kuwait.

    • J. Smith

      Facts are facts. The Left complains endlessly about how we are the fattest and the poor oppressed Arab countries but look how fat they are getting. Somehow this is worked out to be our fault too, of course.

      • Ivana Cvetanovic

        Um, these Arab countries are the RICH Arab countries. Most of which your country, USA, has splendid relations with (because of oil). You don’t see Syria or Iraq on the list.

        • Mina

          Truth.

  • http://www.theworldaccordingtoeggface.com/ Michelle Vicari

    Primary care providers have little training in obesity and weight management, at a visit to your doctor what you get is “you need to lose weight” or “just eat less and move more” and clearly that is not enough. The information that is out there is confusing and can do more more harm than good. Diet and exercise is certainly a necessary component to weight loss but seldom is it sufficient or sustained in the absence of evidence based treatments and shortsightedly insurance will cover the expensive diseases and debilitating conditions caused by obesity (heart/high BP, T2 diabetes, sleep apnea, some cancers, etc.) but not the obesity itself (dietitians, counseling, medical weight management, medications, bariatric surgery.)

  • johnashtone

    Fat is calorie intake over calories burnt.

    The reason any person is fat, is they consume more calories than they use.

    Sugary drinks, alcohol etc only increase fat if person doesn’t exercise or expend energy.
    USA isn’t #1 on the list, because many Americans DO exercise. Crap food (does any1 above age 16 actually eat Mcdonald’s?) and sugary drinks are not the cause. Americans drank Coke by the gallon in the 30s, but exercised more, hence not as fat then, as today.

    • Geo

      Calories, seriously, the problem is sugar and carbs, your liver turns sugar into glucose that is stored in the body as body fat, it has nothing to do with calories, i can eat steak, chicken breast, with no potatoes, rice or bread as a side, and not gain weight because all i ate was Protein, and no carbs, despite the high amount of calories found in meat.

      • johnashtone

        Learn about calories.

        Both sugar and carbs have calorific value.

        You are brain washed.

        Reduce a persons calorific intake and they reduce weight.

        It is that simple.

        Yes I’m perfectly aware that sugar and carbs ‘hide’ their calories, but they are still there.

        • Geo

          I lost 16 lbs in 3 months on a 3000 calorie a day combination of exercise, high protein with low GI carbs, the human body requires 2000 a day for a person between the age of 30-50. like i said, Calorie are just the energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 kilogram of water through 1 °C, equal to one thousand small calories and often used to measure the energy value of foods. Amino Acids don’t turn into fat or stay in the body, they have GI of 0, your body only takes the amino acid protein that it needs and discards the rest, like i said, i can eat a whole chicken breast, along with some mozarella, with broccoli and mushrooms, and my weight stayed stable.

          • NekoJinx

            Woohoo go you! 🙂 congrates. I’ve lost 20 in a year without trying but now that I am trying I’m just eating a lot healthier walking more often. So about 15 km+ a week.

        • John Smith

          I was eating about 2500 calories a day on the ketogenic diet consisting of roughly 70% fats (including animal fats a.k.a. the boogieman – saturated fats) 25% proteins, and 5% carbs only from vegetables. 2 belt sizes down in 2.5 weeks. In fact I was losing weight so fast, I had to go back to eating carbs like rice, pasta, and bread.

        • VicLmech

          You don’t know much about the effects of metabolism, hormones, and other dynamic functions of the body do you? The human body is not like an engine running off gasoline, where 1 oz of gasoline will produce a quantifiable amount of power. The types of food affect the body just as much if not more so than the caloric content.

  • faruq badiuddin

    What is the source of these statistics, may I know?

  • John Smith

    but but but…..low fat foods are on every shelf…. and eating fats causes you to become fat right? Or maybe somebody has been lying to us for the last 30 years. Surely eating carbs is better than eating fats. right? right?? I mean, protein is need to build muscle, fats (lipids) are needed for brain function, digestion, and hormone function, and carbs are for…. wait.. what are carbs for? Oh yeah, instant energy if you are an olympic swimmer or storing energy in your fat cells as reserve energy (making you fat) if you are not an olympic swimmer. Hmmmmm…

    • Mina

      Low fat foods make you fatter than the original fat version. They usually add loads of creams and sugars and that’s terrible. For example, in low fat peanut butter, they replace the good fats with loads of sugar to make it taste the same and that is far worse for you. Be careful.

    • NekoJinx

      Low fat and low sugar foods are a lie they take all the good things out of it and or add sugar or sweetener which is also bad, it can cause cancers

  • Earl

    The first photo is of Thai children in Thailand. Also credit the image, dicks.

  • Karl Pentel

    I have heard (and seen…) that Pacific Islanders “takes the cake” in the fat obese-stakes, with the Kingdom of TONGA being the heavyweights in the game!
    The King of Tonga is so big he won’t fir in a ordinary family car.

  • Laura

    Can you, please, provide the source for these statistics? Thanks.