World’s fattest countries revealed in interactive map

The world’s fattest countries have been revealed in a new interactive map.

The map, published by Our World in Data, uses data compiled from figures from 195 countries around the world and shows the huge divide in obesity rates.

The figures come from the NCD Risk Factor Collaboration, which recorded worldwide trends between 1975 and 2016 of 128.9 million people.

Statistics were based on body mass index (BMI) — specifically, people who were underweight, overweight or obese.

A person is considered overweight if their BMI — which is determined by a person’s weight in kilograms divided by their height in meters squared — is equal to or greater than 25. A BMI of 30 or over constitutes obesity. A “healthy” BMI is considered 18.5 to 24.9, according to the CDC.

The map revealed that 39% of the world’s adults were overweight or obese — and 68% of Americans fell into those categories.

It also showed that not one single country saw a decrease in obesity rates between 1975 and 2016.

Globally, 13% of adults aged 18 and older were recorded as obese in 2016.


Share of adults that are overweight or obese, 2016
The map uses data compiled from figures from 195 countries around the world.
WHO, Global Health Observatory

All 10 of the world’s fattest countries were in the Pacific — with the remote island of Nauru holding the top spot.

Almost nine in 10 people in Nauru are overweight, according to the data.

The island of Palau came in second place with 85.1% of the population being overweight or obese, followed by the Cook Islands (84.7%), Marshall Islands (83.5%) and Tuvalu (81.9%).

The United States was ranked the 15th fattest nation and Britain came in at 30.

On the other hand, Vietnam is ranked as the skinniest nation — with just 18.3% of the people in Southeast Asia being considered overweight or obese.


Participants of a walk against Diabetes and for general fitness around Nauru airport.  Photo by Lorrie Graham.
All 10 of the world’s fattest countries were in the Pacific — with the remote island of Nauru holding the top spot.
Lorrie Graham/AusAID

The top 10 most overweight countries in the world are:

  1. Nauru – 88.5%
  2. Palau – 85.1%
  3. Cook Islands – 84.7% 
  4. Marshall Islands – 83.5% 
  5. Tuvalu – 81.9% 
  6. Niue – 80% 
  7. Kiribati – 78.7% 
  8. Tonga – 78.5% 
  9. Samoa – 77.6% 
  10. Micronesia – 75.9%

The top 10 least overweight countries in the world are:

  1. Vietnam – 18.3% 
  2. India – 19.7%
  3. Bangladesh – 20% 
  4. Ethiopia – 20.9%
  5. Nepal – 21%
  6. Timor – 21.6%
  7. Cambodia – 21.7%
  8. Eritrea – 22%
  9. Niger – 22%
  10. Burundi – 22.2%

People who are overweight or obese have an increased risk of many health conditions including death, stroke, cancer and high blood pressure, according to the CDC.

A recent study also suggested that obesity should be classified as a brain development disorder rather than a behavioral disease.

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