Most Obese Countries 2021

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Obesity is a growing global concern. Data suggests the number of obese people in the world has tripled since 1975 to approximately 2.1 billion—roughly 30% of the total population—and this number continues to rise.

Obesity is one of the leading causes of preventable death, dramatically decreasing not just a person's overall quality of life but also their life expectancy. Obesity puts people at higher risk for diabetes, heart disease, and even certain types of cancer. Additional health risks from diabetes include osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, kidney disease, strokes, and high blood pressure. Pregnant women who are obese may suffer from complications that can lead to health problems for the mother or child.

Because of the many health concerns associated with obesity, it can be used as a major overall health indicator of a population. The healthiest countries in the world generally have lower obesity rates.

The good and bad of BMI

One frequently used measure of obesity all over the world is Body Mass Index, or BMI. Introduced in the 1830s, this measure considers a person's weight in relation to their height. A normal BMI is 18.5 to 24.9, and a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese.

Despite its popularity, BMI is widely considered to be a flawed metric. It fails to consider vital influencing factors such as body type, gender, age, and bone density. Moreover, BMI can't distinguish between muscle and fat.

This can lead to clearly inaccurate results, particularly in athletes. For example, professional wrestler "Stone Cold" Steve Austin in his prime was a heavily muscled picture of physical fitness—but his 6'2" height and 252-lb (114kg) weight gave him a BMI of 32.4, classifying him as obese.

Because of results such as these, BMI is a fairly imprecise determiner of whether or not a given person is overweight. However, because of its global ubiquity, it remains the best currently available metric to use for country-to-country comparisons.

A newer, but notably more consistent test for obesity is waist-to-height ratio, or WHtR. According to WHtR, a person is obese if the circumference of their waist measures more than half their height. Thus, a WHtR of .5 or lower is healthy, and a WHtR of higher than .5 is obese (though the cutoff rises to .6 for patients aged 50 and older).

Obesity from country to country

National obesity is typically measured by examining either the average BMI of its citizens or the percentage of citizens whose BMI qualifies as obese. These methods give similar, but different results. For example, the World Health Organization's 2016 data yields the following results:

10 Most Obese Countries in the World, 2016 (measured by average BMI)*:

  1. Cook Islands (32.9)
  2. Nauru (32.5)
  3. Niue (32.4)
  4. Samoa (32.2)
  5. Tonga (32.2)
  6. Tuvalu (30.8)
  7. Kiribati (30.1)
  8. Saint Lucia (30.0)
  9. Micronesia (29.7)
  10. Egypt (29.6)

10 Most Obese Countries in the World, 2016 (measured by percentage of obese adults)*:

  1. Nauru (61.0%)
  2. Cook Islands (55.9%)
  3. Palau (55.3%)
  4. Marshall Islands (52.9%)
  5. Tuvalu (51.6%)
  6. Niue (50%)
  7. Tonga (48.2%)
  8. Samoa (47.3%)
  9. Kiribati (46.0%)
  10. Micronesia (45.8%)

*For the complete list of all countries, see the table below.

While it's easy to assume that the easy availability of rich, decadent foods in the world's wealthiest and most developed countries would make them the most obese, this isn't always the case. The United States and the United Kingdom are two of the most economically rich and developed countries globally. However, they'd place 18th and 48th respectively when ranked by BMI, and 123rd and 95th when ranked by percentage of obese adults.

Oceania seems to be especially challenged by obesity. One proposed cause is that foreigners taught the locals to fry their meals, abandoning their traditional cultivation, preparation, and preserving skills. Other possible factors include genetic predisposition; an increased tendency to replace local food sources with less nutritious imported options; and the rise of fast-food restaurants, which have replaced healthier local food (a scenario mirrored in Kuwait).

Additionally, the World Health Organization posits that the rising costs of healthy food and increased food scarcity in underdeveloped nations is a contributing factor to obesity in poor and/or developing nations and least developed nations.

Here are the 10 most obese countries by obesity rate:

  1. Nauru (61.00%)
  2. Cook Islands (55.90%)
  3. Palau (55.30%)
  4. Marshall Islands (52.90%)
  5. Tuvalu (51.60%)
  6. Niue (50.00%)
  7. Tonga (48.20%)
  8. Samoa (47.30%)
  9. Kiribati (46.00%)
  10. Micronesia (45.80%)

Most Obese Countries 2021

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Most Obese Countries 2021

Country Obesity Rate - Both Obesity Rate - Female Obesity Rate - Male Mean BMI - Female (kg/m²) Mean BMI - Male (kg/m²) Mean BMI - Both (kg/m²) 2021 Population
Nauru61.00%63.30%58.70%32.7032.2032.5010,876
Cook Islands55.90%59.20%52.60%33.1032.7032.9017,565
Palau55.30%58.80%51.80%29.6029.5029.5018,169
Marshall Islands52.90%57.30%48.40%30.4028.8029.6059,610
Tuvalu51.60%56.20%47.00%31.6030.0030.8011,931
Niue50.00%55.10%44.80%33.3031.4032.401,619
Tonga48.20%54.50%41.40%33.7030.5032.20106,760
Samoa47.30%55.00%39.90%34.1030.4032.20200,149
Kiribati46.00%50.40%41.60%31.1029.0030.10121,392
Micronesia45.80%51.50%40.10%31.4028.1029.70116,254
Kuwait37.90%45.60%33.30%30.4029.0029.604,328,550
United States36.20%37.00%35.50%28.9028.8028.90332,915,073
Jordan35.50%43.10%28.20%29.8028.3029.0010,269,021
Saudi Arabia35.40%42.30%30.80%29.2028.0028.5035,340,683
Qatar35.10%43.10%32.50%30.1028.8029.202,930,528
Libya32.50%39.60%25.00%29.2026.9028.106,958,532
Turkey32.10%39.20%24.40%28.6027.1027.9085,042,738
Lebanon32.00%37.00%27.40%27.4027.9027.606,769,146
Egypt32.00%41.10%22.70%31.4027.8029.60104,258,327
United Arab Emirates31.70%41.00%27.50%29.4028.0028.409,991,089
Bahamas31.60%38.10%24.40%28.8027.1028.00396,913
New Zealand30.80%31.40%30.10%28.0028.1028.004,860,643
Iraq30.40%37.00%23.40%29.7027.8028.8041,179,350
Fiji30.20%35.30%25.10%28.8026.6027.70902,906
Bahrain29.80%36.80%25.50%24.8024.8024.801,748,296
Canada29.40%29.30%29.50%26.6027.3026.9038,067,903
Australia29.00%28.40%29.60%26.7027.6027.1025,788,215
Malta28.90%28.50%29.20%26.3027.7027.10442,784
Mexico28.90%32.80%24.30%28.4027.5028.00130,262,216
Argentina28.30%29.00%27.30%27.6027.8027.7045,605,826
South Africa28.30%39.60%15.40%29.3025.0027.3060,041,994
Chile28.00%31.00%24.90%28.1027.8028.0019,212,361
Dominica27.90%35.60%19.90%29.0025.0027.0072,167
Uruguay27.90%30.60%24.90%27.3027.3027.403,485,151
Syria27.80%34.80%20.90%29.2027.4028.3018,275,702
United Kingdom27.80%28.60%26.90%27.0027.3027.1068,207,116
Dominican Republic27.60%34.10%21.00%27.4025.5026.5010,953,703
Algeria27.40%34.90%19.90%26.4024.7025.5044,616,624
Oman27.00%33.70%22.90%26.3026.4026.305,223,375
Tunisia26.90%34.30%19.10%27.1025.5026.3011,935,766
Suriname26.40%33.70%18.90%27.7025.4026.50591,800
Hungary26.40%24.60%28.20%26.4028.2027.309,634,164
Lithuania26.30%27.80%24.20%25.8027.0026.402,689,862
Israel26.10%26.20%25.90%26.9027.6027.308,789,774
Morocco26.10%32.20%19.40%26.5025.4026.0037,344,795
Iran25.80%32.20%19.30%27.0025.2026.1085,028,759
Costa Rica25.70%30.40%21.10%27.9026.8027.305,139,052
Andorra25.60%25.30%25.90%26.1027.3026.7077,355
Venezuela25.60%28.60%22.40%26.8026.6026.7028,704,954
Ireland25.30%25.50%25.10%27.0027.9027.504,982,907
Vanuatu25.20%30.10%20.20%26.8025.6026.20314,464
Bulgaria25.00%24.30%25.50%25.7027.1026.406,896,663
Greece24.90%25.40%24.20%26.7027.5027.1010,370,744
Jamaica24.70%33.40%15.30%29.6025.8027.802,973,463
El Salvador24.60%28.90%18.90%28.3026.8027.706,518,499
Cuba24.60%30.30%18.90%26.0025.2025.6011,317,505
Belarus24.50%26.30%22.10%26.6026.4026.609,442,862
Croatia24.40%24.50%24.10%26.8028.0027.404,081,651
Belize24.10%31.50%16.50%30.5027.5029.10404,914
Ukraine24.10%25.70%22.00%26.2026.9026.6043,466,819
Spain23.80%22.80%24.60%24.8027.0025.9046,745,216
Saint Vincent And the Grenadines23.70%31.00%16.60%28.2026.3027.20111,263
Nicaragua23.70%29.00%17.90%27.9026.5027.206,702,385
Latvia23.60%25.10%21.60%26.2027.0026.701,866,942
Montenegro23.30%23.10%23.30%26.1027.0026.50628,053
Barbados23.10%31.30%14.70%29.2026.4027.80287,711
Norway23.10%22.50%23.60%26.1027.3026.705,465,630
Poland23.10%22.20%23.70%25.9027.4026.7037,797,005
Russia23.10%26.90%18.10%26.4025.8026.20145,912,025
Saint Kitts And Nevis22.90%30.10%15.30%30.7028.2029.5053,544
Panama22.70%27.60%17.80%27.7026.2026.904,381,579
Haiti22.70%26.90%17.90%24.2026.5025.3011,541,685
Luxembourg22.60%20.70%24.50%25.6027.0026.30634,814
Solomon Islands22.50%27.10%17.90%26.9025.7026.30703,996
Romania22.50%21.60%23.40%26.8027.0026.9019,127,774
North Macedonia22.40%22.10%22.60%26.2027.3026.802,082,658
Colombia22.30%26.60%17.60%26.6025.8026.2051,265,844
Germany22.30%20.40%24.20%25.8027.3026.6083,900,473
Finland22.20%20.60%23.70%25.5026.4025.905,548,360
Belgium22.10%21.00%23.10%25.6026.6026.1011,632,326
Brazil22.10%25.40%18.50%26.8026.3026.60213,993,437
Iceland21.90%19.40%24.20%25.5027.0026.20343,353
Cyprus21.80%21.60%21.90%26.0027.5026.801,215,584
Albania21.70%21.80%21.60%26.3027.0026.702,872,933
Georgia21.70%23.80%19.20%27.6027.5027.603,979,765
France21.60%21.10%22.00%24.2025.9025.0065,426,179
Serbia21.50%21.80%21.10%25.5026.6026.108,697,550
Honduras21.40%26.90%15.60%27.6025.9026.8010,062,991
Grenada21.30%29.00%13.30%28.8025.2027.00113,021
Papua New Guinea21.30%25.80%16.60%26.0025.3025.609,119,010
Estonia21.20%21.80%20.30%25.9026.9026.401,325,185
Guatemala21.20%26.40%15.10%27.3025.7026.6018,249,860
Kazakhstan21.00%22.70%18.90%26.4026.3026.4018,994,962
Portugal20.80%21.20%20.30%25.1026.1025.6010,167,925
Mongolia20.60%23.20%17.50%26.6025.9026.203,329,289
Sweden20.60%18.10%23.10%25.4026.7026.0010,160,169
Slovakia20.50%19.90%21.00%25.5027.3026.405,460,721
Netherlands20.40%20.00%20.80%25.1026.0025.6017,173,099
Paraguay20.30%23.40%17.10%26.9026.5026.707,219,638
Guyana20.20%27.10%12.70%27.7025.1026.40790,326
Slovenia20.20%21.00%19.40%26.5026.6026.602,078,724
Armenia20.20%23.00%17.10%27.0025.6026.302,968,127
Bolivia20.20%25.60%14.50%27.7025.3026.6011,832,940
Austria20.10%18.30%21.90%24.6026.5025.609,043,070
Azerbaijan19.90%23.60%15.80%27.9026.1027.1010,223,342
Ecuador19.90%24.70%14.90%27.9026.6027.3017,888,475
Italy19.90%19.50%20.10%24.7026.5025.6060,367,477
Saint Lucia19.70%27.00%12.00%30.4029.6030.00184,400
Denmark19.70%17.00%22.30%24.4026.2025.305,813,298
Peru19.70%24.20%15.20%27.1026.2026.7033,359,418
Switzerland19.50%16.90%22.20%23.7026.7025.208,715,494
Antigua And Barbuda18.90%25.90%11.60%27.7025.7026.7098,731
Botswana18.90%29.30%8.10%26.1022.5024.302,397,241
Moldova18.90%21.10%16.20%27.3026.6027.004,024,019
Trinidad And Tobago18.60%26.00%10.80%28.6026.6027.601,403,375
Turkmenistan18.60%20.90%15.90%26.6026.5026.606,117,924
Bosnia And Herzegovina17.90%18.40%17.10%25.1026.4025.803,263,466
Namibia17.20%25.40%7.50%25.3022.9024.202,587,344
Yemen17.10%22.00%12.00%24.1023.6023.8030,490,640
Lesotho16.60%26.70%4.60%27.0022.7024.902,159,079
Kyrgyzstan16.60%18.60%14.00%27.2025.9026.606,628,356
Uzbekistan16.60%19.00%13.80%27.4026.3026.9033,935,763
Eswatini16.50%26.20%5.40%28.9024.5026.801,172,362
Malaysia15.60%17.90%13.00%26.1025.3025.7032,776,194
Zimbabwe15.50%25.30%4.70%25.3022.2023.8015,092,171
Gabon15.00%20.30%9.60%26.5024.0025.202,278,825
Tajikistan14.20%16.70%11.60%26.3025.8026.109,749,627
Brunei14.10%15.70%12.50%27.2027.2027.20441,532
Seychelles14.00%20.50%7.60%27.9025.5026.7098,908
Djibouti13.50%18.30%8.60%24.6023.4024.001,002,187
Mauritania12.70%18.50%6.60%26.6023.2024.904,775,119
Sao Tome And Principe12.40%16.90%7.20%25.6023.9024.80223,368
Cameroon11.40%16.40%6.10%25.1023.6024.3027,224,265
Ghana10.90%16.60%4.50%25.2022.5023.9031,732,129
Mauritius10.80%15.70%5.60%25.9024.6025.201,273,433
Gambia10.30%14.80%5.60%24.5023.4024.002,486,945
Ivory Coast10.30%15.20%5.80%24.2023.4023.8027,053,629
Thailand10.00%12.70%7.00%25.0023.9024.4069,950,850
Liberia9.90%14.20%5.50%25.1023.1024.105,180,203
Benin9.60%14.20%4.70%24.5022.6023.5012,451,040
Guinea Bissau9.50%13.70%5.00%24.0022.8023.402,015,494
Nigeria8.90%13.10%4.60%23.9022.5023.20211,400,708
Senegal8.80%12.90%4.00%24.0021.8023.0017,196,301
Sierra Leone8.70%13.30%3.80%23.5021.9022.708,141,343
Maldives8.60%11.40%5.80%26.3024.6025.50543,617
Mali8.60%12.40%4.60%23.1022.9023.0020,855,735
Sudan8.60%12.40%3.80%25.9023.1024.7044,909,353
Pakistan8.60%11.30%6.00%24.6023.3023.90225,199,937
Togo8.40%12.50%3.90%24.5022.5023.608,478,250
Tanzania8.40%12.70%4.00%24.1022.3023.2061,498,437
Somalia8.30%12.30%3.90%23.9022.5023.2016,359,504
Angola8.20%12.10%4.00%24.3022.3023.3033,933,610
Zambia8.10%12.40%3.60%23.7021.3022.6018,920,651
Equatorial Guinea8.00%12.60%3.80%25.9022.3024.001,449,896
Comoros7.80%12.20%3.30%25.6023.3024.50888,451
Guinea7.70%11.50%3.70%23.4022.4022.9013,497,244
Central African Republic7.50%10.90%3.70%23.7022.0022.904,919,981
Mozambique7.20%10.50%3.30%23.4022.0022.8032,163,047
Kenya7.10%11.10%2.80%24.5022.1023.3054,985,698
Indonesia6.90%8.90%4.80%23.8022.5023.10276,361,783
North Korea6.80%7.30%6.10%24.0024.2024.1025,887,041
DR Congo6.70%9.70%3.60%22.6021.3022.0092,377,993
Bhutan6.40%8.50%4.70%24.5023.5023.90779,898
Philippines6.40%7.50%5.20%23.5022.8023.20111,046,913
China6.20%6.50%5.90%23.5024.2023.801,444,216,107
Singapore6.10%6.30%5.80%23.0024.3023.605,896,686
Chad6.10%8.90%3.10%21.9021.9021.9016,914,985
Rwanda5.80%9.30%1.90%22.8021.3022.1013,276,513
Malawi5.80%9.10%2.20%23.2022.6022.9019,647,684
Myanmar5.80%7.30%4.00%23.0022.2022.6054,806,012
Burkina Faso5.60%8.10%2.60%22.1022.2022.2021,497,096
Niger5.50%8.70%2.50%22.3021.4021.8025,130,817
Afghanistan5.50%7.60%3.20%24.1022.6023.4039,835,428
Burundi5.40%8.60%2.10%21.6021.8021.7012,255,433
Laos5.30%6.70%3.70%23.1022.7022.907,379,358
Madagascar5.30%7.50%3.00%21.1021.5021.3028,427,328
Uganda5.30%8.60%1.80%23.3021.6022.5047,123,531
Sri Lanka5.20%7.30%2.90%23.7022.5023.1021,497,310
Eritrea5.00%7.60%2.00%21.1020.2020.703,601,467
South Korea4.70%4.80%4.40%23.1024.4023.8051,305,186
Ethiopia4.50%6.90%1.90%21.1020.1020.60117,876,227
Japan4.30%3.70%4.80%21.8023.6022.70126,050,804
Nepal4.10%5.40%2.70%22.5022.5022.5029,674,920
Cambodia3.90%4.80%2.70%22.3022.1022.2016,946,438
India3.90%5.10%2.70%21.9021.7021.801,393,409,038
Timor Leste3.80%4.90%2.60%21.3021.3021.301,343,873
Bangladesh3.60%5.00%2.30%22.0021.3021.70166,303,498
San Marino0.00%0.00%0.00%0.000.000.0034,017
Monaco0.00%0.00%0.00%0.000.000.0039,511
South Sudan0.00%0.00%0.00%0.000.000.0011,381,378

Most Obese Countries 2021