Obesity is when an adult has a BMI of 30 or greater and is considered a global epidemic. Bodyweight results from several factors, such as poor nutritional choices, overeating, genetics, culture, and metabolism. Worldwide obesity has nearly tripled since 1975, with about 13% of adults being obese and about 39% of adults being overweight.
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.
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 the 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 Southeast Asia, 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.
Nauru has the highest obesity rate in the world at 61.0%. Nauru is a Pacific Island nation with roughly 10,000 inhabitants. Their diet consists mostly of noodles, rice, soda, and food from tins, likely attributed to the island’s economic downturn making it difficult to access healthy food. Type 2-diabetes is a large concern among the Nauru people.
Vietnam has the lowest obesity rate of 2.1%. Vietnam, however, has a large number of malnourished and underweight citizens. Vietnam struggles with an increase in obesity while simultaneously addressing those who are not receiving enough nutrition, forcing the government to adjust policies in different regions. Obesity seems to be increasing in cities, while undernourishment is a prevalent issue among rural populations.
The United States has the 12th highest obesity rate in the world of 36.2% and is the most obese OECD country. Obesity rates vary significantly between states](/state-rankings/obesity-rate-by-state), ranging from 23% to 38.10%. This is due to the same diet, environment, 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. With campaigns promoting daily physical activity and proper nutrition, Americans often opt for fast, cheap, and filling options such as processed packaged food, fast food, and larger portions. This often leads to a higher fat, calorie, and sodium intake and lower intake of vitamins and nutrients.