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What Countries Are the Most Obese in the World?

Margaret has a bachelor's degree in International and European Studies. She has thoroughly studied global economy, history and development.

Have you ever wondered what countries have the most obese population? The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has been compiling the average of obese individuals aged 15 years old and older in 35 countries around the world based on their body mass index (BMI) : a single number that evaluates an individual's weight in relation to their height. Adults with a BMI from 25 to 30 are defined as overweight, and those with a BMI of 30 or over as obese.

Let's take a look at the countries with the highest percentage of obese people according to OECD's latest data.

What are the world's most obese countries?

What are the world's most obese countries?

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is an intergovernmental economic organization with 36 member countries. It was founded in 1961 to stimulate economic progress and world trade.

The Highest Percentage of Obese Population Around the World

CountryPercentage of Obese Population in 2018Percentage of Obese Population in 2019



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United States


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New Zealand



United Kingdom


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7. Latvia

Latvia has the world's 7th highest percentage of obesity, since 58,7% of its total population was found to be obese in 2018. Latvia is also the country with the highest alcohol consumption in the world. These data easily lead to the assumption that the Latvian government needs to take immediate measures to improve its public health.

6. Finland

Finland is sixth on our list, with 57,0% of its total population been found to suffer from obesity in 2018. Obesity seems to become increasingly prevalent in Finland particularly among working-age people. Among over 30-year-old Finns, only one in four are of normal weight. Obesity is also common among children in Finland, since children aged 2–16, 27% of boys and 18% of girls were at least overweight in 2018.

5. Ireland

61,0% of Ireland's total population were found to be obese in 2019, which makes the country the world's fifth country with the most overweight and obese population.

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4. United Kingdom

With 63,3% of its total population being obese, it's safe to assume that obesity in the United Kingdom is a significant contemporary health concern. English women tend to have a slightly higher obesity rate than men whereas obesity tends to increase with age - a third of people in England over the age of 35 are obese.

Obesity is one of the most crucial public health problems worldwide.

Obesity is one of the most crucial public health problems worldwide.

3. New Zealand

New Zealand battles an obesity epidemic as the third most obese country in the world. More specifically, 66,8 % of its total population was found to be obese in 2018, with that number slightly dropping to 65,1 % in 2019. An interesting fact worth mentioning is that the prevalence of obesity among adults differed by ethnicity, with 66.5% of Pacific, 48.2% of Māori, 29.1% of European/Other, and 13.8% of Asian adults suffering from obesity.

2. United States

United States ranks second on our list, with 66,2% of its population suffering from obesity. Obesity in the country affects some groups more than others. More specifically, non-Hispanic blacks (49.6%) have the highest age-adjusted prevalence of obesity, followed by Hispanics (44.8%), non-Hispanic whites (42.2%), and non-Hispanic Asians (17.4%). More specifically, the prevalence of obesity is 40.0% among young adults aged 20 to 39 years, 44.8% among middle-aged adults aged 40 to 59 years, and 42.8% among adults aged 60 and older.

1. Mexico

According to the latest data available, Mexico is the world's most obese country, with 75,2% of its total population suffering from obesity in 2018. The lack of access to fresh and healthy foods, the aggressive marketing of food products directed at children, and high exposure to ultra-processed food in homes and markets, are all reasons that contribute to an unhealthy environment that promotes obesity and affects millions of Mexicans.

The Battle Against Obesity

There are many reasons why obesity is rising rapidly. On the one hand, there are factors that we can control such as diet and exercise, and on the other hand, there are factors we cannot control, such as age, medical conditions, and genetic conditions. However, at least 80% of obesity comes from the factors we CAN control. Your best weapons against obesity are a food calculator and a notebook. The former, one of my personal favorites, contains rich and extremely helpful information about hundreds of foods—and the first step against obesity is knowing what you eat and what it contains. The second step is writing down when you eat something, how much of it you eat, and on what basis—daily, weekly, etc. Once you get a hold of your diet, you'll see rapid changes in terms of your body.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Margaret Pan


MG Singh emge from Singapore on August 19, 2020:

This is an interesting article on a topic which we do not think often. Thank you

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