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%12,668
Cook Islands55.90%17,011
Palau55.30%18,055
Marshall Islands52.90%41,569
Tuvalu51.60%11,312
Niue50.00%1,934
Tonga48.20%106,858
Samoa47.30%222,382
Kiribati46.00%131,232
Micronesia45.80%114,164
Kuwait37.90%4,268,873
United States36.20%338,289,857
Jordan35.50%11,285,869
Saudi Arabia35.40%36,408,820
Qatar35.10%2,695,122
Lebanon33.70%5,489,739
Libya32.50%6,812,341
Turkey32.10%85,341,241
Egypt32.00%110,990,103
United Arab Emirates31.70%9,441,129
Bahamas31.60%409,984
New Zealand30.80%5,185,288
Iraq30.40%44,496,122
Fiji30.20%929,766
Bahrain29.80%1,472,233
Canada29.40%38,454,327
Australia29.00%26,177,413
Mexico28.90%127,504,125
Malta28.90%533,286
South Africa28.30%59,893,885
Argentina28.30%45,510,318
Chile28.00%19,603,733
Uruguay27.90%3,422,794
Dominica27.90%72,737
United Kingdom27.80%67,508,936
Syria27.80%22,125,249
Dominican Republic27.60%11,228,821
Algeria27.40%44,903,225
Oman27.00%4,576,298
Tunisia26.90%12,356,117
Hungary26.40%9,967,308
Suriname26.40%618,040
Lithuania26.30%2,750,055
Morocco26.10%37,457,971
Israel26.10%9,038,309
Czech Republic26.00%10,493,986
Iran25.80%88,550,570
Costa Rica25.70%5,180,829
Venezuela25.60%28,301,696
Andorra25.60%79,824
Ireland25.30%5,023,109
Vanuatu25.20%326,740
Bulgaria25.00%6,781,953
Greece24.90%10,384,971
Jamaica24.70%2,827,377
Cuba24.60%11,212,191
El Salvador24.60%6,336,392
Belarus24.50%9,534,954
Croatia24.40%4,030,358
Ukraine24.10%39,701,739
Belize24.10%405,272
Saint Vincent And the Grenadines24.10%103,948
Spain23.80%47,558,630
Nicaragua23.70%6,948,392
Latvia23.60%1,850,651
Montenegro23.30%627,082
Russia23.10%144,713,314
Poland23.10%39,857,145
Norway23.10%5,434,319
Barbados23.10%281,635
Saint Kitts And Nevis22.90%47,657
Haiti22.70%11,584,996
Panama22.70%4,408,581
Luxembourg22.60%647,599
Romania22.50%19,659,267
Solomon Islands22.50%724,273
Germany22.30%83,369,843
Colombia22.30%51,874,024
Finland22.20%5,540,745
Brazil22.10%215,313,498
Belgium22.10%11,655,930
Iceland21.90%372,899
Cyprus21.80%1,251,488
Georgia21.70%3,744,385
Albania21.70%2,842,321
France21.60%64,626,628
Serbia21.50%7,221,365
Honduras21.40%10,432,860
Papua New Guinea21.30%10,142,619
Grenada21.30%125,438
Guatemala21.20%17,843,908
Estonia21.20%1,326,062
Kazakhstan21.00%19,397,998
Portugal20.80%10,270,865
Sweden20.60%10,549,347
Mongolia20.60%3,398,366
Slovakia20.50%5,643,453
Netherlands20.40%17,564,014
Paraguay20.30%6,780,744
Bolivia20.20%12,224,110
Armenia20.20%2,780,469
Slovenia20.20%2,119,844
Guyana20.20%808,726
Austria20.10%8,939,617
Italy19.90%59,037,474
Ecuador19.90%18,001,000
Azerbaijan19.90%10,358,074
Peru19.70%34,049,588
Denmark19.70%5,882,261
Saint Lucia19.70%179,857
Switzerland19.50%8,740,472
Moldova18.90%3,272,996
Botswana18.90%2,630,296
Antigua And Barbuda18.90%93,763
Turkmenistan18.60%6,430,770
Trinidad And Tobago18.60%1,531,044
Bosnia And Herzegovina17.90%3,233,526
Namibia17.20%2,567,012
Yemen17.10%33,696,614
Uzbekistan16.60%34,627,652
Kyrgyzstan16.60%6,630,623
Lesotho16.60%2,305,825
Eswatini16.50%1,201,670
Malaysia15.60%33,938,221
Zimbabwe15.50%16,320,537
Gabon15.00%2,388,992
Tajikistan14.20%9,952,787
Brunei14.10%449,002
Seychelles14.00%107,118
Djibouti13.50%1,120,849
Mauritania12.70%4,736,139
Sao Tome And Principe12.40%227,380
Cape Verde11.80%593,149
Cameroon11.40%27,914,536
Ghana10.90%33,475,870
Mauritius10.80%1,299,469
Ivory Coast10.30%28,160,542
Gambia10.30%2,705,992
Thailand10.00%71,697,030
Liberia9.90%5,302,681
Benin9.60%13,352,864
Republic of the Congo9.60%5,970,424
Guinea Bissau9.50%2,105,566
Nigeria8.90%218,541,212
Senegal8.80%17,316,449
Sierra Leone8.70%8,605,718
Pakistan8.60%235,824,862
Sudan8.60%46,874,204
Mali8.60%22,593,590
South Sudan8.60%10,913,164
Maldives8.60%523,787
Tanzania8.40%65,497,748
Togo8.40%8,848,699
Somalia8.30%17,597,511
Angola8.20%35,588,987
Zambia8.10%20,017,675
Equatorial Guinea8.00%1,674,908
Comoros7.80%836,774
Guinea7.70%13,859,341
Central African Republic7.50%5,579,144
Mozambique7.20%32,969,518
Kenya7.10%54,027,487
Indonesia6.90%275,501,339
North Korea6.80%26,069,416
DR Congo6.70%99,010,212
Philippines6.40%115,559,009
Bhutan6.40%782,455
China6.20%1,425,887,337
Chad6.10%17,723,315
Singapore6.10%5,975,689
Myanmar5.80%54,179,306
Malawi5.80%20,405,317
Rwanda5.80%13,776,698
Burkina Faso5.60%22,673,762
Afghanistan5.50%41,128,771
Niger5.50%26,207,977
Burundi5.40%12,889,576
Uganda5.30%47,249,585
Madagascar5.30%29,611,714
Laos5.30%7,529,475
Sri Lanka5.20%21,832,143
Eritrea5.00%3,684,032
South Korea4.70%51,815,810
Ethiopia4.50%123,379,924
Japan4.30%123,951,692
Nepal4.10%30,547,580
India3.90%1,417,173,173
Cambodia3.90%16,767,842
Timor Leste3.80%1,341,296
Bangladesh3.60%171,186,372
Vietnam2.10%98,186,856

Obesity Rates by Country 2022

Sources