Obesity: A Public Health Epidemic


In 1995, approximately 200 million adults around the world were considered obese. Today, that number is reported to be closer to 700 million.

Obesity, which is defined as having a Body Mass Index (BMI) equal to or greater than 30, can lead to several health problems such as cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and certain types of cancer.

Being overweight or obese increases the likelihood of premature death. In fact, around 20% of all deaths in the US are related to obesity. This public health issue has become a social norm in many countries around the world. This article examines where obesity is most common.


Socio-Economics and Obesity

Obesity was once believed to be a problem faced primarily by populations living in high-income countries. Recent research, however, indicates that the opposite is true. In fact, out of the list of the 29 most obese countries, more entries are from developing countries than developed ones. The most obese populations in the world live in Pacific Island nations, which make up many the top ten positions on the list. The second most obese region of the world is in the Middle East, as countries from this region also occupy top places in the table.

This pattern indicates that one of the biggest contributing factors to obesity rates around the world is the socio-economic status of a country or person. In many developing countries, the urban population and average income are increasing at extremely high rates. These two factors are directly related to more sedentary lifestyles and an increased consumption of obesity causing substances like salt, sugar, and animal fat. Additionally, the rise in income is often not enough to keep up with the increasing cost of living found in cities. With little to no expendable income (and not enough time for cooking healthy meals), people often turn to convenience foods which, while low in cost, are high in caloric content.


Countries by their Obesity Rate

Rank Country Obesity Percentage
1 Palau 47.1 %
2 Nauru 45.1 %
3 Marshall Islands 42.3 %
4 Samoa 41.6 %
5 Tonga 41.1 %
6 Qatar 41.0 %
7 Kiribati 40.1 %
8 Tuvalu 39.6 %
9 Kuwait 38.3 %
10 The Bahamas 36.6 %
11 Fiji 35.9 %
12 United States 35.0 %
13 United Arab Emirates 34.5 %
14 Bahrain 34.1 %
15 Saudi Arabia 33.7 %
16 Barbados 33.2 %
17 Federated States of Micronesia 33.2 %
18 Vanuatu 32.9 %
19 Trinidad and Tobago 32.3 %
20 Andorra 32.1 %
21 Libya 31.9 %
22 Antigua and Barbuda 31.0 %
23 Lebanon 30.8 %
24 New Zealand 30.6 %
25 Canada 30.1 %


Source: graphicmaps.com






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