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 2023, 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 and stuff like food reward apps aren’t making it easier to keep that six-pack!
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 the percentage of the population that can be classified as being obese.
The Top 10 Fattest Countries In The World – 2023 Update
#10 – United States – 36.2%
More than two-thirds of adults in the United States are overweight. Out of them, nearly 37% are obese. What’s driving this chronic weight problem? A lot of things. For starters, more and more people are eating out instead of cooking at home. While it may be convenient, it’s not exactly good for our health. In fact, researchers have found that people usually eat 20 to 40 percent more calories when eating out compared to when they’re eating at home. Over time, this can lead to a significant amount of weight gain.
Healthier foods are more expensive as well (those on a budget are more likely to go for cheap, high-calorie options). For example, diets rich in fish, vegetables, fruits, and nuts cost significantly more than processed foods, meats, and refined gains.
And let’s not forget about soda. While they may taste good, they’re packed with sugars and calories. Not just that, but they can also increase your risk of cavities, type 2 diabetes, and other health problems.
#9 – Kuwait – 37.9%
Obesity is a major concern in Kuwait. Among adolescents, nearly 50% are overweight or obese (men more so than women). There are several reasons for this. For one thing, the country has a harsh climate (it can reach up to 122F during the day); this makes it difficult to exercise during the day. It also encourages individuals to adopt a sedentary lifestyle.
Couple that with the fact that cheap junk food is widely available and it only makes sense that more and more people are becoming overweight in the country.
#8 – Federated States Of Micronesia – 45.8%
The Federated State of Micronesia has an alarming rate of overweight and obesity. According to a recent survey, 32% of women and 31% of men are obese. They also have the highest rates of childhood obesity.
This is likely due to a combination of poor diet and sedentary behavior. For one thing, imported foods such as sugar, flour, white rice, and fatty meats have replaced local foods in the diet and they’re all high in calories. The country also relies greatly on foreign aid, which doesn’t help with the situation.
#7 – Kiribati – 46.0%
Nearly half of all Kiribati residents are obese. At the end of the day, it all boils down to diet. That is, more and more people are eating imported foods—ones that are high in salt and fat.
Given that, it’s not surprising to know that many people also live with chronic conditions. Take type 2 diabetes, for example, it affects 22% of the population. Left untreated, it can lead to kidney damage, nerve damage, and foot damage. That’s not all, it can also increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.
#6 – Samoa – 47.3%
The prevalence of obesity in Samoa has only been going up since the 1960s. Nowadays, more than 50% of the adult population is obese. Some factors that have contributed to this phenomenon include urbanization, genetic predisposition, and poor diet (fresh local food has been replaced with highly processed imported food).
Unsurprisingly, the leading cause of death in Samoa is cardiovascular disease. Diabetes, cancer, stroke, and other chronic diseases are also common among adults.
#5 – Tonga – 48.2%
Tonga has a small population of 107,000. Despite that, more than 90% of adults are either overweight or obese. Like most countries in the Pacific islands region, however, their traditional diet—which typically consists of fish, coconuts, and root vegetables—has been replaced by imported foods, things like turkey tails and mutton flaps, both of which are low in nutrition. In fact, they’re usually thrown away in the U.S. and New Zealand.
Genetics may have something to do with it as well. Researchers believe that Pacific islanders’ bodies are programmed to cling onto fats as they had to survive for long periods without food in the past, which certainly isn’t the case as of 2023.
#4 – Tuvalu – 51.6%
Obesity is a major health concern in Tuvalu where more than 65% of men and 70% of women are overweight. Like most Pacific small nations, the main problem lies with their diet. Instead of traditional foods, the majority of residents rely on imported foods, ones that are high in sugar and fat.
This puts them at a major risk for a number of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes. In fact, the majority of deaths result from these conditions.
#3 – Marshall Islands – 52.9%
The prevalence of obesity is high in the Marshall Islands; it affects approximately 32% of women and 31% of men. Diabetes prevalence in adults has also gone up in the recent years. It’s estimated to affect 23% of adult women and 23% of adult men.
Children are no exception, though it’s not as prevalent compared to adults. According to the Global Nutrition Report, 4.1% of children in the Marshall Islands under the age of five are overweight. Depending on their diet, they’re also at risk of poor nutrition.
#2 – Palau – 55.3%
Palau is an archipelago of over 500 islands in the Western Pacific. According to World Atlas, more than 55% of the adult population is obese. Up-to-date data for children, however, is limited. Having said that, one study found that up to 35% of students are either overweight or obese. Experts believe that the incidence is high because almost all their foods are imported and expensive. High-calorie, fast food, on the other hand, is much more affordable.
Aside from obesity, the Palau population also has high rates of liver disease, lung disease, and diabetes. Water pollution is an issue as well.
#1 – Kuwait – 61.0%
Nauru takes the number one spot when it comes to obesity. According to the World Health Organization, more than 94% of the population is overweight, 72% of which are obese. As for children, 44% of those between the ages of 13 to 15 are overweight (17% are obese).
If anything, the Nauruan diet plays a major role. That is, most of their diet consists of instant noodles, white rice, soda, and imported foods, all of which are high in calories. They also consume very little fruits and vegetables. Whereas before the country gained independence, many people ate fresh fruits and vegetables, ones that they grew on their own land. However, these traditional practices have since gone down.
Instead of farming and fishing for their own food, it’s become much easier to buy imported canned and frozen foods.
This list changes slightly year to year but sadly over the last few years these top countries have stayed relatively the same. Hopefully in 2024 we start to see a decline across the board and shifts to healthier lifestyles around the world.
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
what’s free access to alcohol?
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.
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.
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.
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…
perhaps in Arab countries but not for example in Iran
Alcohol is fattening.
Not as fattening as soda
alcohol is haram in the Arab world, it’s considered sinful and evil to drink alcohol. Prohibition is alive and well in those countries.
? Alcohol is just as bad. Maybe not as bad as a Coca-Cola but it’s pretty damn bad.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
We do have sort of healthy food & non-sugary as well, so next time when you visit Egypt let me list them for you ?
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??
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!
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…
A small box of fruit will cost at least $3, worth three McDonald’s sandwiches. Which is going to keep you more full?
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You live in a world where only kids eat fast food? Odd.
Pretty easy to determine some of the contributors to obesity. I mean, I live in a country where I can get a large pizza- cooked and ready to go- for $5 and an apple costs $2. There are $1 cheeseburgers at fast food restaurants and $6+ salads. If you have a limited amount of money for food you have three choices: eat calorie dense junk, live off chicken, tuna, and rice, or die.
Oh, and even if you eat the ultra clean bland stuff and manage to get enough calories, are your kids going to eat chicken and rice 3 meals a day? And if you cook something healthy and your kids don’t like it, truthfully that’s a hit in the pocketbook many people can’t take very often. If you have enough money to cook your kids grilled salmon with roasted garlic potatoes and asparagus sauteed in olive oil and fix them another meal when they decide they hate that, okay, but I don’t and only a handful of people I know do.
Not to mention time!!! We left the ballpark at 9:30 pm last night. I wasn’t going to make low fat chicken fajitas.
Then in some cultures here the fitness craze never really took hold. I don’t mean any racist intent at all- and a lot of black comedians have joked about this as well- but you never see a black woman jogging. Once in a great while I see one at the gym, and I see tons of black guys at the gym, but realistically the percentage of female joggers that are black must be like 1%. Latinas don’t seem to be big on that culture either. Whether that’s their failure or ours is another debate.
The overall calories vs. macro profile of food debate is very complex. However, even if we accept a calorie is a calorie, it’s hard to discount the idea of sugar crashes causing unhealthy binge eating.
What is the source of these statistics, may I know?
only source: Tyler Carlson, Author at The Gazette
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…
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.
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
The first photo is of Thai children in Thailand. Also credit the image, dicks.
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.
Can you, please, provide the source for these statistics? Thanks.
kuwait has 70 percent of it population of expats worker manily from Egypt + india (around 3 million from outside and 1.3 million are kuwaities)
i rarely see obese natives
same for all gulf countries (kuwait , qatar , UAE , saudi arabia )
these countries depend on foreign workers
however countries like united states and mexico are mainly Mexicans and Americans
so this inst accurate
SUGAR is conspicuously absent from this article. If any nation wants to start reducing health care costs (for the general population), it would start with sugar. Not only is sugar pervasive in our foods (hidden and overt sugar) but it’s clearly the main contributing cause of heart attacks, diabetes, stroke and liver disease. Anyone who professes to be “pro-health” and for “lowering health care costs” cannot be serious unless going after the sugar industry is part of the plan. All the nonsense about ACA and other health care issues are just window dressing; the real culprit is sugar. The science is clear: sugar is the equivalent of tobacco in causing disease and death in the world.
cut that portion for starts! portions are huge now! eat everything natural in moderation, move your body & dont drink soft drinks or packaged foods or artificial ingredients. eat lots of dark chocolate instead of high carb & fat desserts like cinnamon rolls. limit tortillas & creole bread, Belize, my country, they are so delicious but full of carbs & fat. I eat them, but in moderation. fresh natural fruits & veg instead of sweet juices, whole wheat bread instead of white, brown rice instead of white. cut that portion for starts! even if you drink half a fanta, it’s better than the whole one
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I am 66 and overweight, not obese yet, but I have been on a lower carb diet, no sugar for 6 months and have not lost one pound. I am not sedentary either. I am beginning to believe that some of us have adapted to reap calories from air. Its depressing when one is truly trying. I am following the advice of a nutritionist as well.
Don’t lose hope, you are older so your metabolism has slowed down, Though less common in males, thyroid disease WILL cause extreme weight gain as well as other hormonal disorders. Its great you quit sugar, its rough I quit a month ago good God I was homicidal.
Have your hormones tested, hormones work against each gender differently i;e, women with high testosterone do NOT get lean or muscular or “manly”, they actually have worse periods, gain weight, get ovarian cysts and LOSE hair. Men with low testosterone gain weight, have issues with fatigue, and irritability. Men’s testosterone lowers as does estrogen for women in later ages. Always check the hormones first!!