World Facts

The Most Obese Countries In The World

Obesity can be a serious problem and some countries have a bigger obese population than others. The most obese countries include the Cook Islands and Nauru in the top spots.


A person is considered obese if they have a body mass index of over 30. Approximately 3.4 million adults succumb to death every year as a result of being obese or overweight. The rise of obesity has been gradual but constant across the globe, with latest estimates suggesting an estimate of billion obese citizens globally. That is double the rate that existed 20 years ago. All data comes from the latest report from the World Health Organization (WHO).

Correlation With Economics And Obesity

The most obese countries in the world are not necessarily the richest or most developed. The U.S. and the UK, which are ranked 12th and 36th, respectively, indicate there’s no direct relationship between obesity and a country’s economic status. In fact, countries with smaller economies, such as Marshall Islands, Kuwait, Samoa, Palau, and Nauru have made it to the top 10.

As per World Health Organization, food scarcity and its rising prices are also responsible for obesity in underdeveloped nations such as Venezuela, where the public finds it difficult to eat a balanced, healthy diet. For these people, the option is filling up on the empty calories with junk or fried food.

Adult Obesity in the United States

Though America is not the most obese country in the world, North America still continues to lead the charts. While a majority of other countries that top of the list are small and sparsely populated countries. Mexico and the US continue to top the list in recent years trading spots for number 1 in North America. The United States is the most obese country in North America with 36.2% of its population having a body mass index of over 30.0. Nearly 78 million adults and 13 million children in the United States deal with the health and emotional effects of obesity every day. According to the CDC an average adult is 26 pounds heavier now than in the 1950’s.

Easily available calorie-rich processed food and little education about nutrition among citizens are the major reasons behind Mexico’s 28.9% obese population. The obesity issues of the country began in the 1980s when vegetables and whole grains started getting replaced by processed food. In the past 5 years, Mexico has taken steps to reduce its obesity rate and has separated itself from toping the list in North America.

World Obesity Rates

As aforementioned, topping the list are small Pacific Island nations such as Samoa, Tonga and Kiribati, to name a few. Approximately four of every five citizens of these countries are obese or overweight. The reason is almost all of the food these island nations are imported and therefore expensive, but fast-food chains offer a cheap and convenient alternative.

They’re closely followed by a string of Middle Eastern nations – Kuwait, Qatar, Libya, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. 75 percent of these countries’ population is overweight and well over a third is considered obese. With scorching hot temperatures of up to 40 degree Celsius, regular ‘natural’ exercise such as walking is not common with an increasing embrace for western fast food restaurants in recent years. Traditionally, people often share large community platters, making it difficult keep track of portion size.

Overweigh Gender and Age Disparity

In countries such as the UK, U.S., Australia and Canada, obesity prevails in close to 25 percent of men who are 18 years older or above.

In South-East Asia, Africa, and East Mediterranean locations, obesity among women is almost double the prevalence of obesity in men. The body fat distribution between women and men could be behind these numbers, but studies suggest economic and social factors are also playing a role. In war-torn countries such as Syria, women are invariably restricted to their homes, giving them little scope for sporting activities or recreation.

Countries with the Highest Prevalence of Obesity

RankCountryPercentage of Population that is Obese
2Cook Islands55.9
4Marshall Islands52.9
12United States of America36.2
14Saudi Arabia35.4
20United Arab Emirates31.7
22New Zealand30.8


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