Special Report

This Is the Most Obese Country in the World

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. The most recent CDC report on obesity shows that a stunning 16 states have adult obesity prevalence of 35% or above: 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. (These are the most obese states in America.)

International obesity rates can be even higher. To determine the most obese country or territory in the world, 24/7 Tempo calculated an index of average adult male and female obesity rates from the World Obesity Foundation’s Global Obesity Observatory, weighted using 2020 population data from the World Bank. The result? The most obese country in the world is the tiny Pacific island nation of Nauru.

Many people might assume that the United States has the highest obesity rate of any country, and in the developed world, that might be true. Among nations in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, America does indeed have the worst obesity number. By the OECD estimate, the obesity rate of Americans 15 years or older as of 2016 was 40%, ahead of Chile at 34.4% and Mexico at 33.3%. In comparison, Japan had the lowest rate at 4.2%; the next lowest was South Korea at 5.5%. (See why everything you know about obesity is wrong.)

Looking through the lens of a much larger group of nations, however, the United States is not even in the top 10. According to data provided by the Global Obesity Observatory, the country with the highest obesity rate is Nauru – a small island nation in Micronesia, northwest of Australia – at 62.31%. Given its small population, just shy of 11,000, it may not be fair to compare Nauru to larger countries.

Click here to see the most obese country or territory in the world

A more reasonable comparison might be American Samoa, a U.S. territory with a population of 55,000 and an obesity rate of 61.97%. For whatever reasons, the 13 most obese nations or territories in the world are all in Micronesia or Polynesia. The Middle Eastern country of Kuwait is No. 14 – and then comes the U.S.

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