The World’s Fattest Countries
In countries around the world, waistlines are expanding so rapidly that health experts recently coined a term for the epidemic: globesity. One in three of the world’s adults is overweight and one in 10 is obese.
Here are the Top 10 Fattest Countries in the world, based on national health surveys the World Health Organization (WHO) compiled between 2000 and 2008.
1) American Samoa, 93.5 percent (of population that’s overweight)
Traditionally, Pacific Islanders ate native foods high in complex carbohydrates and low in fat. That began to change dietary habits as family members abroad introduced those back home to Western eating.
2) Kiribati, 81.5 percent
Between 1964 and 2001, food imports to the least developed Pacific nations, such as Kiribati, increased six-fold. Those imports led to a huge influx in fatty food and processed meat, such as Spam and mutton flaps (fatty sheep scraps).
3) U.S., 66.7 percent
In the early 1960’s, 24 percent of Americans were overweight. Today, two-thirds of Americans are too fat, and the numbers on the scale keep going up. Health experts attribute the rise to an over-production of oil, fat and sugar — the result of government farm subsidies started in the 1970’s that made it much cheaper to manufacture products like high fructose corn syrup, a common ingredient in processed foods.
4) Germany, 66.5 percent
When Germany found out that it was the fattest nation in Europe, health experts blamed the usual suspects: beer, fatty foods and lack of physical activity. Like the rest of the world, Germans are suffering from an easy availability of junk food and more sedentary jobs and lifestyles.
5) Egypt, 66 percent
In the 1960’s, Egypt produced enough food to feed its people a steady diet of red meat, poultry, lentils, maize and dairy products. But by the 1980’s, the population had outgrown food production, leading to an increase in food imports that created poorer eating habits.
6) Bosnia-Herzegovina, 62.9 percent
Smoking, drinking and eating unhealthy foods spiked during the war that ravaged the country from 1992 to 1995. Those living just above the poverty line are gaining weight the fastest, partly because of the tendency to fill up on cheap processed foods high in calories and low on nutritional value.
7) New Zealand, 62.7 percent
Researchers found that how much time New Zealand children spend watching television is a better predictor of obesity than what they eat or how much they exercise. The study found that 41 percent of the children who were overweight by age 26 were those who had watched the most TV.
8) Israel, 61.9 percent
In the past 30 years, the number of obese Israelis has tripled. As in most developed countries, obesity is most prevalent among Israelis with less education.
9) Croatia, 61.4 percent
Croatia is a victim of the globalization of the food market, which tends to suppress traditional diets as cheaper processed foods from the U.S. and Europe flood store shelves.
10) United Kingdom, 61 percent
A recent survey ranked the British among the bottom third of European nations in physical exercise, leading Health Secretary Andy Burnham to comment, “We’re really in danger of being known as the best in the world for watching sport, but one of the worst for getting out there and doing it for ourselves.”