Obesity, among the most dangerous health conditions, has become an epidemic in America. It can cause heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and some cancers. Obesity can affect mental health as well, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The most recent CDC report on obesity shows that a stunning 16 states have adult obesity prevalence of or above 35%: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia. In Louisiana, the figure is 38.1%, the highest in the country.
Many people assume that the United States has the highest obesity rate among countries. In the developed world, there exists a strong argument that this is true. Among Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) nations, America has the worst obesity number. By the OECD estimate, the obesity rate of Americans 15 years or older is 40.0%, ahead of Chile at 34.4% and Mexico at 33.3%. Japan has the lowest rate at 4.2%. The next lowest is South Korea at 5.5%.
Looking through the lens of a much larger group of nations, the United States is not even in the top 10. According to data provided by the Global Obesity Observatory, the American obesity figure is 36.47%. The worldwide data come from a study of just short of 129 million people, and part of the study appeared in the journal Lancet.
The nation with the highest obesity rate from the Global Obesity Observatory is Nauru, at 59.85%. It is a small country in Micronesia, northwest of Australia. Its population is just shy of 11,000 people. Given its population, Nauru really does not have enough people to make a fair comparison to larger countries.
American Samoa, a U.S. territory with a population of 55,000, may be a more reasonable comparison. The portion of its population that is obese is 58.75%.
These are the most obese nations in the world:
- Nauru (59.85%)
- American Samoa (58.75%)
- Cook Islands (53.97%)
- Palau (53.15%)
- Marshall Islands (49.85%)
- Tahiti (French Polynesia) (48.89%)
- Tuvalu (48.47%)
- Niue (46.17%)
- Kiribati (42.87%)
- Tonga (42.72%)
- Federated States of Micronesia (41.48%)
- Tokelau (41.40%)
- Samoa (41.28%)
- United States (36.47%)
- Kuwait (34.28%)
- Qatar (33.46%)
- Saudi Arabia (31.73%)
- New Zealand (31.07%)
- Australia (30.57%)
- Canada (30.47%)