One-Third of The World Will Be Overweight
By 2015: Which Nations Are The Fattest?
As the world has grown smaller, weve all grown larger
alarmingly so. In countries around the world, waistlines
are expanding so rapidly that health experts recently coined a
term for the epidemic: globesity.
The common fat-o-meter among nations is body
mass index (BMI), a calculation based on a persons height
and weight. The World Health Organization defines overweight
as an individual with a BMI of 25 or more and obese
as someone with a BMI of 30 or higher.
Today, one in three of the worlds adults is overweight
and one in 10 is obese. By 2015, WHO estimates the number of chubby
adults will balloon to 2.3 billion equal to the combined
populations of China, Europe and the U.S.
The rise in obesity coincides with increased modernization and
a worldwide explosion in the availability of highly processed
foods. In the past 50 years, more of us have started driving to
work instead of walking, opening a box of mac n cheese instead
of cooking, pushing computer keys instead of plows and taking
the elevator rather than the stairs.
The combination of these factors is driving obesity all
over the world, said James Hospedales, coordinator for prevention
and control of chronic diseases at the Pan American Health Organization.
Whats really alarming is that its not just the
middle aged, its children and adolescents. Thats new.
Take a look at the Top 10 Fattest Countries in the world, based
on national health surveys WHO compiled between 2000 and 2008.
1) American Samoa, 93.5 percent (of population that's
Traditionally, Pacific Islanders ate native foods high in complex
carbohydrates and low in fat, such as bananas, yams, taro root,
coconut and fish. Since World War II, an explosion of obesity
on the islands has corresponded with a rise in migration to the
U.S., New Zealand, France and Australia. That began to change
dietary habits as family members abroad introduced those back
home to Western eating and sent money home, giving locals the
means to buy more food. Today, this six-island nation in the South
Pacific Ocean tops the scales as one of the fattest in the world.
2) Kiribati, 81.5 percent
Between 1964 and 2001, food imports to the least developed Pacific
nations, such as Kiribati, which comprises 33 islands clustered
around the equator, increased six-fold, according to the Food
and Agriculture Organisation, a United Nations agency established
to fight world hunger. Those imports led to a huge influx in fatty
food and processed meat, such as Spam and mutton flaps (fatty
sheep scraps), often sold at lower prices than native food.
3) U.S., 66.7 percent
In the early 1960s, 24 percent of Americans were overweight.
Today, two-thirds of Americans are too fat, and the numbers on
the scale keep going up. Health experts attribute the rise to
an over-production of oil, fat and sugar the result of
government farm subsidies started in the 1970s that made it much
cheaper to manufacture products like high fructose corn syrup,
a common ingredient in processed foods. On top of that,
investment policies changed in the early 1980s to require corporations
to report growth to Wall Street every 90 days, said Marion
Nestle, a nutrition professor at New York University and author
of the book Food Politics. This made food companies
seek new ways to market to the public. Obesity was collateral
4) Germany, 66.5 percent
When Germany found out that it was the fattest nation in Europe,
health experts blamed the usual suspects: beer, fatty foods and
lack of physical activity. Like the rest of the world, Germans
are suffering from an easy availability of junk food and more
sedentary jobs and lifestyles. As part of the governments
campaign to reduce obesity levels by 2020, it has launched programs
to serve more fruits and vegetables in public schools.
5) Egypt, 66 percent
In the 1960s, Egypt produced enough food to feed its people a
steady diet of red meat, poultry, lentils, maize and dairy products.
But by the 1980s, the population had outgrown food production,
leading to an increase in food imports that created poorer eating
habits. Obesity among Egyptian women is particularly high, often
attributed to cultural taboos on women exercising or playing sports.
6) Bosnia-Herzegovina, 62.9 percent
Once considered a problem only in high-income countries, obesity
is dramatically on the rise in low- and middle-income countries
like Bosnia-Herzegovina, where smoking, drinking and eating unhealthy
foods spiked during the war that ravaged the country from 1992
to 1995. Those living just above the poverty line in developing
countries are gaining weight the fastest, partly because of the
tendency to fill up on cheap processed foods high in calories
and low on nutritional value.
7) New Zealand, 62.7 percent
In a study at the University of Otago, researchers found that
how much time New Zealand children spend watching television is
a better predictor of obesity than what they eat or how much they
exercise. The study found that 41 percent of the children who
were overweight by age 26 were those who had watched the most
TV. Television is not the only reason New Zealanders are gaining
weight, but its one modern development often cited for growing
8) Israel, 61.9 percent
In the past 30 years, the number of obese Israelis has tripled,
evidence the country is truly part of the Western world. Like
in most developed countries, flab is most prevalent among Israelis
with less education, with Jewish women with college degrees having
the lowest levels of obesity and Arab women with basic education
having the highest.
9) Croatia, 61.4 percent
Croatia, where cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of
death, is also a victim of the globalization of the food market,
which tends to suppress traditional diets as cheaper processed
foods from the U.S. and Europe flood store shelves. Unlike other
Europeans, Croatian men have higher rates of obesity than Croatian
women, and tend to get even fatter as they age. Its no wonder
that a Croatian charity announced in June that it had created
the worlds largest pair of jeans the size of six
tennis courts stitched together from 8,023 donated pairs
10) United Kingdom, 61 percent
Last month, The Observer begrudgingly reported that the heaviest
man in the world was not in the U.S., but a 48-year-old Brit living
in low-incoming housing in Ipswich eating takeaways and
playing computer games. His weight: 980 pounds. British
bellies are expanding for the same reasons as everywhere else.
A recent survey, however, ranked Brits among the bottom third
of European nations in physical exercise, leading Health Secretary
Andy Burnham to comment, "We're really in danger of being
known as the best in the world for watching sport, but one of
the worst for getting out there and doing it for ourselves."
Reference Source: globalpost.com
November 27, 2009