America Isn’t No. 1 Anymore: Here Are the Most Obese—and Slimmest—Countries in the World

More than 1.9 billion adults were overweight last year, according to the World Health Organization’s 2014 Global Status Report.

This map by the U.K.'s Clinic Compare depicts obesity rates around the world, according to CIA data. Warmer shades indicate higher rates. (Photo: Clinic Compare)

Jan 24, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Kristina Bravo is Assistant Editor at TakePart.

Obesity rates are increasing everywhere.

Worldwide obesity has doubled since 1980, according to the Global Status Report released by the World Health Organization this week. In 2014, more than 600 million adults were obese and nearly two billion were overweight. Forty-two million children younger than five were overweight or obese in 2013.

Those numbers hardly come as news for many.

A study released last year reported similar findings. More recently, the U.K.’s Clinic Compare created a map (above) based on international obesity statistics by the CIA, which lists Pacific Island nations—American Samoa, Nauru, and Cook Islands—as the most obese countries in the world. (The United States is 18th on the CIA’s list. But among large populations, Mexico only two years ago unseated America as the fattest country in the world.)

But perhaps more notable from WHO’s report is the disparity of obesity rates between sexes. Women in Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Eastern Mediterranean are twice as likely to be obese than men.

This map shows the prevalence of obesity in men around the world. Darker shades indicate higher obesity rates. (Photo: WHO)
This map shows the prevalence of obesity in women around the world. Darker shades indicate higher obesity rates. (Photo: WHO)

The difference in body fat distribution between men and women can account for the numbers, but some studies have argued that social and economic factors also play a role.

These numbers may be grim, but WHO emphasizes the one positive thing about obesity: We can do something about it.

“The world now has a truly global agenda for prevention and control of [noncommunicable diseases], with shared responsibilities for all countries based on concrete targets,” writes WHO Director-General Margaret Chan. “This is an historic opportunity…no country can afford to miss.”