Obesity Rates by Country 2022

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When a person's weight is higher than what is considered healthy for their height, their condition is described as overweight or obese. Bodyweight results from several factors, such as poor nutritional choices, overeating, genetics, culture, and metabolism. Obesity is linked to many health complications and diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, certain types of cancer, and stroke. Additionally, obesity is the leading preventable cause of preventable death. Despite the negative effects these conditions can have on one's health, more people are overweight or obese today than ever before in history. In fact, obesity is considered a modern epidemic in most parts of the world. Worldwide obesity has nearly tripled since 1975, with about 13% of adults being obese and about 39% of adults being overweight.

BMI explained

The most commonly used method of measuring obesity is the Body Mass Index, or BMI, which divides a person's weight (in kilograms) by their height (in meters) squared. Medically speaking, BMI scores break down as follows:

  • BMI under 18.5 = underweight
  • BMI 18.5 to <25 = healthy
  • BMI 25 to <30 = overweight
  • BMI 30 to <35 = obese (class 1)
  • BMI 35 to <40 = obese (class 2)
  • BMI 40 or higher = obese (class 3 - morbid)

BMI is not a perfect measure. In particular, it can sometimes give a "false positive" score to athletic individuals, whose high BMIs are due not to excess body fat, but to excess muscle. For example, extremely fit NFL quarterback Russell Wilson measured 5'11" tall and 215 pounds in 2016, which gave him a BMI of 30.0, or obese. NBA superstar and wellness enthusiast Lebron James had a BMI of 27.5 in 2012, which qualified as overweight—a clear misdiagnosis. As a result of this inaccuracy, many medical experts are switching to waist-to-height ratio, or WHtR, which compares the circumference of a person's waist to their height. If the waist is more than half the height, (or more than 6/10 the height for those over 50), that person is obese. WHtR is considered much more accurate than BMI, but is also much newer. Over time, as it is adopted by more countries, WHtR could easily replace BMI as the de facto measure of a person's weight health.

Obesity by Country

Obesity rates vary significantly by country as a result of different lifestyles and diets. There is no direct correlation between the obesity rate of a country and its economic status; however, wealthier countries tend to have more resources to implement programs, campaigns, and initiatives to raise awareness and education people about what they are consuming. These are among the healthiest countries globally. Some regions of the world, such as the South Pacific, have seen alarming increases in obesity rates within the past five years. Some governments, such as the United States government, have launched campaigns in recent years to promote healthier lifestyles and being active.

The 10 Most Obese Countries in the World

The most obese country by average BMI is the Cook Islands, which has an average BMI of 32.9. Nauru follows with 32.5, then Niue with 32.4. Samoa and Tonga both have average BMIs of 32.2. Finishing the top ten most obese countries are Tuvalu (30.8), Kiribati (30.1), Saint Lucia (30.0), Micornesia (29.7), and Egypt (29.6). What eight of these countries have in common is being located in the South Pacific. When looking at the percentage of obese adults, the list looks a little different. The most obese country by percentage of obese adults is Nauru, with 61% of adults falling in the obese category. Cook Islands fllows with 55.9%, and Palau just under that at 55.3%. Three other countries have adult populations that are over 50% obese: the Marshall Islands (52.9%), Tuvalu (51.6%), and Niue (50%). Finishing the list are Tonga (48.2%), Samoa (47.3%), Kiribati (46.0%), Micronesia (45.8%). The Pacific island nations appear prominently, with Saint Lucia and Egypt serving as the only non-Oceania countries on either list. Type 2-diabetes is a large concern among the people of many of these countries. Multiple theories exist as to why this particular region is so susceptible to obesity, including the growth of unhealthy fast food, the rise of frying as a means of food preparation, and a possible genetic predisposition toward higher BMIs.

The United States has the 12th highest obesity rate in the world at 36.2%. Obesity rates vary significantly between states](/state-rankings/obesity-rate-by-state), ranging from 23% to 38.10%. This is due to the same dietary, environmental, and cultural factors that cause variations between countries. Diet is primarily to blame, with Americans receiving mixed messages about what they should be eating and how much of it. Faced with mouth-watering advertisements served alongside campaigns promoting daily physical activity and proper nutrition, many Americans opt for fast, cheap, and filling options such as processed packaged food, fast food, and larger portions. This often leads to a diet rich in fat, calories, and sodium (the "butter, sugar, salt" trifecta) and low in vitamins and nutrients.

Top 10 Least Obese Countries in the World

When looking at average BMI, three countries tie for the least obese country in the world, with an average BMI of 21.1: Madagascar, Eritrea, and Ethiopia. Five other countries have average BMIs under 22: Timor-Leste (21.3), Burundi (21.6), Japan (21.8), China (21.9) and India (21.9). Bangladesh (22.0) and Burkina Faso (22.1) finish the list. Japan's presence here is perhaps unsurprising given that the national diet—which emphasizes seafood, freshness, modest portions, and minimal added sugar or dairy fat—is a very healthy approach (as evidenced by the fact that Japanese life expectancy is among the highest on Earth). However, many of the other countries on this list struggle with famine and poverty—which is the wrong way to achieve a low BMI. For a full list of the world's countries and their obesity rates and average BMIs, see the table below.

Here are the 10 countries with the highest obesity rates:

  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%)

Obesity Rates by Country 2022

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Obesity Rates by Country 2022

Country % of Obese Adults 2022 Population
Nauru61.00%10,903
Cook Islands55.90%17,571
Palau55.30%18,233
Marshall Islands52.90%60,057
Tuvalu51.60%12,066
Niue50.00%1,622
Tonga48.20%107,749
Samoa47.30%202,239
Kiribati46.00%123,419
Micronesia45.80%117,489
Kuwait37.90%4,380,326
United States36.20%334,805,269
Jordan35.50%10,300,869
Saudi Arabia35.40%35,844,909
Qatar35.10%2,979,915
Lebanon33.70%6,684,849
Libya32.50%7,040,745
Turkey32.10%85,561,976
Egypt32.00%106,156,692
United Arab Emirates31.70%10,081,785
Bahamas31.60%400,516
New Zealand30.80%4,898,203
Iraq30.40%42,164,965
Fiji30.20%909,466
Bahrain29.80%1,783,983
Canada29.40%38,388,419
Australia29.00%26,068,792
Mexico28.90%131,562,772
Malta28.90%444,033
South Africa28.30%60,756,135
Argentina28.30%46,010,234
Chile28.00%19,250,195
Uruguay27.90%3,496,016
Dominica27.90%72,344
United Kingdom27.80%68,497,907
Syria27.80%19,364,809
Dominican Republic27.60%11,056,370
Algeria27.40%45,350,148
Oman27.00%5,323,993
Tunisia26.90%12,046,656
Hungary26.40%9,606,259
Suriname26.40%596,831
Lithuania26.30%2,661,708
Morocco26.10%37,772,756
Israel26.10%8,922,892
Czech Republic26.00%10,736,784
Iran25.80%86,022,837
Costa Rica25.70%5,182,354
Venezuela25.60%29,266,991
Andorra25.60%77,463
Ireland25.30%5,020,199
Vanuatu25.20%321,832
Bulgaria25.00%6,844,597
Greece24.90%10,316,637
Jamaica24.70%2,985,094
Cuba24.60%11,305,652
El Salvador24.60%6,550,389
Belarus24.50%9,432,800
Croatia24.40%4,059,286
Ukraine24.10%43,192,122
Belize24.10%412,190
Saint Vincent And the Grenadines24.10%111,551
Spain23.80%46,719,142
Nicaragua23.70%6,779,100
Latvia23.60%1,848,837
Montenegro23.30%627,950
Russia23.10%145,805,947
Poland23.10%37,739,785
Norway23.10%5,511,370
Barbados23.10%288,023
Saint Kitts And Nevis22.90%53,871
Haiti22.70%11,680,283
Panama22.70%4,446,964
Luxembourg22.60%642,371
Romania22.50%19,031,335
Solomon Islands22.50%721,159
Germany22.30%83,883,596
Colombia22.30%51,512,762
Finland22.20%5,554,960
Brazil22.10%215,353,593
Belgium22.10%11,668,278
Iceland21.90%345,393
Cyprus21.80%1,223,387
Georgia21.70%3,968,738
Albania21.70%2,866,374
France21.60%65,584,518
Serbia21.50%8,653,016
Honduras21.40%10,221,247
Papua New Guinea21.30%9,292,169
Grenada21.30%113,475
Guatemala21.20%18,584,039
Estonia21.20%1,321,910
Kazakhstan21.00%19,205,043
Portugal20.80%10,140,570
Sweden20.60%10,218,971
Mongolia20.60%3,378,078
Slovakia20.50%5,460,193
Netherlands20.40%17,211,447
Paraguay20.30%7,305,843
Bolivia20.20%11,992,656
Armenia20.20%2,971,966
Slovenia20.20%2,078,034
Guyana20.20%794,045
Austria20.10%9,066,710
Italy19.90%60,262,770
Ecuador19.90%18,113,361
Azerbaijan19.90%10,300,205
Peru19.70%33,684,208
Denmark19.70%5,834,950
Saint Lucia19.70%185,113
Switzerland19.50%8,773,637
Moldova18.90%4,013,171
Botswana18.90%2,441,162
Antigua And Barbuda18.90%99,509
Turkmenistan18.60%6,201,943
Trinidad And Tobago18.60%1,406,585
Bosnia And Herzegovina17.90%3,249,317
Namibia17.20%2,633,874
Yemen17.10%31,154,867
Uzbekistan16.60%34,382,084
Kyrgyzstan16.60%6,728,271
Lesotho16.60%2,175,699
Eswatini16.50%1,184,817
Malaysia15.60%33,181,072
Zimbabwe15.50%15,331,428
Gabon15.00%2,331,533
Tajikistan14.20%9,957,464
Brunei14.10%445,431
Seychelles14.00%99,426
Djibouti13.50%1,016,097
Mauritania12.70%4,901,981
Sao Tome And Principe12.40%227,679
Cape Verde11.80%567,678
Cameroon11.40%27,911,548
Ghana10.90%32,395,450
Mauritius10.80%1,274,727
Ivory Coast10.30%27,742,298
Gambia10.30%2,558,482
Thailand10.00%70,078,203
Liberia9.90%5,305,117
Benin9.60%12,784,726
Republic of the Congo9.60%5,797,805
Guinea Bissau9.50%2,063,367
Nigeria8.90%216,746,934
Senegal8.80%17,653,671
Sierra Leone8.70%8,306,436
Pakistan8.60%229,488,994
Sudan8.60%45,992,020
Mali8.60%21,473,764
South Sudan8.60%11,618,511
Maldives8.60%540,985
Tanzania8.40%63,298,550
Togo8.40%8,680,837
Somalia8.30%16,841,795
Angola8.20%35,027,343
Zambia8.10%19,470,234
Equatorial Guinea8.00%1,496,662
Comoros7.80%907,419
Guinea7.70%13,865,691
Central African Republic7.50%5,016,678
Mozambique7.20%33,089,461
Kenya7.10%56,215,221
Indonesia6.90%279,134,505
North Korea6.80%25,990,679
DR Congo6.70%95,240,792
Philippines6.40%112,508,994
Bhutan6.40%787,941
China6.20%1,448,471,400
Chad6.10%17,413,580
Singapore6.10%5,943,546
Myanmar5.80%55,227,143
Malawi5.80%20,180,839
Rwanda5.80%13,600,464
Burkina Faso5.60%22,102,838
Afghanistan5.50%40,754,388
Niger5.50%26,083,660
Burundi5.40%12,624,840
Uganda5.30%48,432,863
Madagascar5.30%29,178,077
Laos5.30%7,481,023
Sri Lanka5.20%21,575,842
Eritrea5.00%3,662,244
South Korea4.70%51,329,899
Ethiopia4.50%120,812,698
Japan4.30%125,584,838
Nepal4.10%30,225,582
India3.90%1,406,631,776
Cambodia3.90%17,168,639
Timor Leste3.80%1,369,429
Bangladesh3.60%167,885,689
Vietnam2.10%98,953,541

Obesity Rates by Country 2022

Sources