Obesity has been steadily on the rise across the planet for the last few years. In fact, studies have shown that the number of obese people across the globe has doubled in the last two decades. This can easily be blamed on easy access to junk food and sedentary lifestyles. While there’s nothing wrong with having some curves or enjoying your partner’s love-handles, when a person’s weight gets out of hand, it brings with it severe health problems including diabetes and heart problems and, at its extreme, can even be a cause of death.
Did you know that obesity claims over 3.4 million lives every year?
Interestingly, there are certain countries that stand out for having higher rates of overweight people than the average and, if you keep on watching, you may be surprised to discover which countries weigh heaviest on the scale. Let’s get started!
10. United States of America
It may not come as a surprise to anyone to find the USA on this list since 31.8% of its population is currently classified as obese. Renowned for being the birthplace of McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and Dunkin’ Donuts, the USA is infamous for its unhealthy diet and its supersized people. As the country to whom most other countries look up to, America, it’s time to start leading by example.
You don’t have to travel too far before you reach another country that is struggling with obesity problems. Research shows that only recently has Mexico been introduced to processed and sugary foods, and that the novelty of it may account for the huge rise in obesity rates in recent years. Similar to its neighbor, 32.8% of the Mexican population is classified as overweight; it might be time to cut down on those tacos and churros, and start considering a more vegetable-oriented diet!
Qatar may be proud to be known as the richest nation in the world but that bragging comes to a quick halt when you take a look at the effects it has had on the country’s eating habits! With its rapid increase in wealth, thanks to Qatar’s natural resources, the country has quickly adopted a Western-style food and diet which, when combined with Qataris’ sedentary lifestyle, is greatly responsible for causing obesity among 33.1% of its population.
7. South Africa
Although Africa is more commonly known as having severe food shortages, South Africa managed to find its way onto this list. One way to explain the 33.5% of obesity among South Africans is that, despite the poverty and hunger that exists there, this developing country struggles with severe inequality and extreme corruption leading to inadequate food distribution and horrific malnourishment. Shockingly, the number of obese people in South Africa has quadrupled in recent years, with huge increases in deaths from heart attacks and strokes, both of which are easily connected to weight problems.
6. United Arab Emirates
Research explains that the culprit behind the United Arab Emirates’ 33.7% obese population is the country’s quick increase in wealth from its oil industry. With the unexpected and rapid growth of UAE’s prosperity came Western fast food chains and an increase in junk food, resulting in the country having an obesity rate that is double the world average and 19% of its population suffering from diabetes. Experts claim that diabetes did not exist in UAE a couple of decades ago but that, due to massive change in the country’s diet, the number of people with this disease has skyrocketed in the last few years.
Another African country makes it into this undesirable list and experts say that, like many other unexpected countries on this list, it is due to Egypt’s rapid economic growth and industrialization that 34.6% of its population is struggling with obesity. Research shows that there is very little correlation between obesity and social class and that it affects the entire country indiscriminately. This is because both lower-income and upper income families are eating fast food regularly. Shockingly, Egypt hits first place as the country with the highest number of diabetics in the world and, sadly, it is also known for having an alarming 32% of children in the obese category.
This Central American country has only started gaining notoriety for its obesity index in the last couple of years. From being a country that never stood out for weight-related issues, recent studies have found that 34.9% of the Belizean population are within the obese spectrum. Shocked into action by this surprising revelation, Belize’s Ministry of Health and the Food and Agriculture Organization have published some food based dietary guidelines to encourage their population to be more mindful of the food they consume and their general well being.
3. Saudi Arabia
The largest country in the Arabian Peninsula, 35.2% of Saudi Arabia’s population struggles with obesity. Unlike many other countries on this list, however, obesity-related issues are not covered by Saudi health insurance, meaning that hundreds of thousands of dollars are being spent every year to address weight-related problems. One of the most common is, of course, diabetes, a disease that has increased by 30% among the population in only 10 years!
In the last few years, this small country on the Arabian Peninsula has risen to being one of the fattest nations on earth. With 42.8% of its population falling into the category of obesity, Kuwait boasts of three times as many overweight people than the global average of 13%. Reports have suggested that it is, unsurprisingly, their insatiable love of fast food that puts Kuwaitis on this list, which has, in turn, dramatically increased the number of stomach stapling surgeries taking place in this country.
While some have claimed that the whooping 45.10% obesity rate in this South Pacific island is due to the fact that islanders are genetically predisposed to gaining weight easily, studies show that this kind of reasoning is predominantly flawed. In fact, Westerners may be the ones to blame for the huge obesity rates in Nauru and in many of its neighboring islands. The reason? Reports explain that, when colonizers first arrived in these tropical paradises, they brought with them their Western ways of cooking, teaching the local people to fry their fresh fish and vegetables rather than eating them raw as they had been doing, and thus introducing them to a fattier and unhealthier diet.
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Are you surprised by these numbers? Then make sure you don’t become part of these statistics! Eat your fruit and veggies, avoid that junk food, and put your running shoes on, for god’s sake. It’s never too late to make a new year’s resolution!