The 30 Most Obese Countries in the World

Obesity is one of the major causes of death in the world that is preventable and treatable. The percentage of obese people has tripled since 1975.

It is a global issue that leads to other underlying health conditions and impacts the quality of life overall.

As of today, approximately 650 million adults, or 13% of the population, are obese, whereas 350 million children under five are obese.

Obesity is measured by computing the Body Mass Index (BMI) of an individual. With this data, it is possible to determine the national obesity rate per country.

Of 195 countries in the world today, we have curated a list of the top 30 most obese countries in the world, which is derived from the Central Intelligence Agency’s list of Obesity – Adult Prevalence Rates.

The Most Obese Countries in the World

NumberCountryPercentage of obese adults
1Nauru 61
2Cook Islands55.9
3Palau 55.3
4Marshall Islands52.9
5Tuvalu 51.6
6Niue 50
7Tonga 48.2
8Samoa 47.3
9Kiribati 46
10Federated States of Micronesia45.8
11Kuwait 37.9
12The United States36.2
13Jordan 35.5
14Saudi Arabia35.4
15Qatar 35.1
16Libya 32.5
17Turkey 32.01
18Egypt 32
19Lebanon 32
20United Arab Emirates31.7
21The Bahamas31.6
22New Zealand30.8
23Iraq 30.4
24Fiji 30.2
25Bahrain 29.8
26Canada 29.4
27Australia29
28Malta 28.9
29Mexico 28.9
30South Africa28.3

1. Nauru – 61%

Nauru

First on the list of the most obese countries in the world is Nauru, an island in the South Pacific Ocean. Of the total population of 9,770, 61% are obese and 94.5% are overweight.

Moreover, 31% of the population is diagnosed with diabetes. It poses a major influence on the life expectancy of both male and female populations, where the life expectancy of males is 64.06 years and 71.3 years for females.

2. Cook Islands – 55.9%

Following Nauru is the Cook Islands in the South Pacific Ocean, with a 55.9% obesity rate in the country. In its population of 8,327, the majority of people are overweight, with a percentage of about 90%.

Moreover, of the total population of children, over 30% are obese. The life expectancy rate of the total population is approximately 76.89 years, specifically 74.05 for males and 79.88 years for females.

3. Palau – 55.3%

The third on the list is Palau, a group of islands in the North Pacific Ocean and south of Japan and the Philippines. It ranks third with a percentage of 55.3% obesity rate from its 21,613 residents.

Moreover, more than 78% of the population is overweight. The prevalence of diabetes in its adult population is no surprise.

4. Marshall Islands – 52.9%

Marshall Islands

The Marshall Islands is another country from the North Pacific Islands included in the top five most obese countries in the world.

With a population of 78,831, 52.9% of the adult population are obese, while 11.9% of children under five years old are underweight.

Of the total population, more than 60% are overweight. The average life expectancy in the country is 72.12 years for males and 76.76 for females.

5. Tuvalu – 51.6%

Tuvalu lies in the South Pacific Ocean and ranks fifth in the most obese countries in the world. It has a population of 11,448 residents in its land area of just 26 sq km.

Of the total population, 51.6% are obese. Based on a national survey, obesity is more rampant in the female population than the male population of the country.

6. Niue – 50%

Located in the South Pacific Ocean, Niue is a small country with a total population of 2,000 in a land area of 260 sq km. It ranks as the sixth most obese country with an obesity adult prevalence rate of 50% or half of the population.

Of the total population of 15 years old and above, more than 80% are overweight. Moreover, diabetes and heart disease are health issues faced by the adult population.

7. Tonga – 48.2%

Tonga

Tonga, another country in the South Pacific Ocean, has an obesity rate of 48.2% of its 105,780 population. Additionally, about 40% are suffering from type 2 diabetes.

The life expectancy rate in Tonga is one of the lowest in the world, at an average of 75.63 for males and 78.99 for females.

8. Samoa – 47.3%

Situated in the South Pacific Ocean, Samoa has a population of 204,898, where 47.3% are obese and 3.4% of children under five years old are overweight.

The life expectancy of the total population averages 74.92 years, with women having a higher expectancy of 77.98 years compared to men with just 72.01 years.

Of the total population, nine out of 10 are categorized as overweight. Thus, diabetes and heart problems are prevalent.

9. Kiribati – 46%

Less than half of Kiribati’s 113,001 residents are obese, with a percentage of 46%. Of the total population, 38% of males and 54% of females are obese.

Moreover, 22% of the population is suffering from type 2 diabetes and 72% are overweight. It is estimated that 39.6% of the population lacks physical exercise.

10. Federated States of Micronesia – 45.8%

The Federated States of Micronesia is a small group of islands located in the North Pacific Ocean. It has a total population of 101,675, with a 45% obese population.

Moreover, 18% of residents have diabetes and 63% are overweight. The life expectancy rate is 74.17 years, which is 72.06 years for males and 76.4 years for females.

11. Kuwait – 37.9%

Kuwait is ranked 11th as the most obese country in the world, with a percentage of 37.9% obese population. 3,032,065 residents are living in Kuwait and 15% of them have diabetes.

It is the top country in the Middle East that has the most obese population. In statistics, the number of deaths related to high sugar levels is 100 for females and 230 for males aged 30 to 69.

12. The United States – 36.2%

United States

The United States of America has an obesity prevalence rate of 36.2% of the 334,998,398 population. It is safe to say that lifestyle and unhealthy food habits are major contributors to the prevalence of obesity.

According to the WHO, the number of deaths related to high blood sugar is 19,000 for females and 39,600 for males of the adult population. Moreover, about 9.1% have diabetes and 69.6% are overweight.

13. Jordan – 35.5%

Approximately 35.5% of Jordan’s population is obese. Jordan has 10,909,567 residents, where 13.1% are diabetic and 62.3% are overweight.

The number of diabetes-related deaths in the adult population is 350 for females and 400 for males. On average, 7% of the total deaths are caused by diabetes and 35% by cardiovascular diseases.

14. Saudi Arabia – 35.4%

Saudi Arabia is the third country in the Middle East that has the most obese population. Of the 34,783,757 population, 35.4% are obese and 68.2% are overweight.

Moreover, 14.4% are suffering from diabetes. About 5% of deaths in the country are attributed to diabetes.

15. Qatar – 35.1%

With a population of 2,479,995 residents, Qatar is the 15th most obese country in the world with a percentage of 35.10%.

The life expectancy of the total population is 79.58 years, with 77.47 years for males and 81.74 years for females.

About a third of the population lacks physical activities. As a result, 76.6% of the population are overweight and 12.8% have diabetes.

16. Libya – 32.5%

Located in Northern Africa, Libya has a 32.5% obese population. Of the total population, 13.7% are diabetic, which is estimated to rise to 245,000 diabetic residents in 2030.

Deaths related to high sugar levels are 580 in females and 770 in males. Moreover, the number of deaths caused by diabetes is 230 for females and 240 for males.

17. Turkey – 32.01%

Turkey

With an obesity prevalence rate of 32.10%, Turkey is the 17th most obese country in the world and the top in Europe. From its 82,482,383 population, 13.2% are diabetics and 66.1% are overweight.

In the country, 47% of deaths result from heart disease, and 2% are caused by diabetes. Compared with males, females are more prone to obesity and overweight conditions.

18. Egypt – 32%

Egypt has an obesity prevalence rate of 32% of the total population of 106,437,241. Diabetes affects 3% of the mortality rate, and cardiovascular diseases affect 40%.

15% of the teenage population is obese. Moreover, 16% of the adult population are diabetic.

19. Lebanon – 32%

Lebanon has the same obesity rate as Egypt, with a 32% obesity prevalence rate. The total population is 5,261,372, with 12.6% having diabetes.

Additionally, 67.3% of the population are overweight and 39.1% are believed to be lacking exercise. The percentage of total deaths attributed to diabetes is about 4%.

20. United Arab Emirates – 31.7%

The 20th most obese country is the United Arab Emirates, with 31.70% of the population being obese. Of its total population of 9,856,612, 8% of adults are suffering from high blood glucose and 13% from high blood pressure.

Moreover, diabetes constitutes 5% of deaths in the country.

21. The Bahamas – 31.6%

Bahamas

In the southeast of Florida lies the Bahamas. It is one of the most obese countries with an obesity rate of 31.6%.

The life expectancy rate in the country is estimated at 75.87 years. Furthermore, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases account for 33% and 7% of mortality, respectively.

22. New Zealand – 30.8%

New Zealand has a population of 4,991,442, where 30.80% are obese and 66.4% are overweight. Moreover, it is estimated that 8.5% are diabetics.

High blood sugar is responsible for the deaths of 140 females and 300 males each year. Furthermore, diabetes is responsible for 3% of total deaths.

23. Iraq – 30.4%

In Iraq, 30.40% of the population is obese and approximately 1.5 million are diabetics, which is about 7.6% of the total adult population.

In 2021, it is estimated that 21,751.7 deaths are related to diabetes from the age group of 20 to 79 years old. 2.5% of children ages 0 to 14 have type 1 diabetes, and 5% of children ages 0 to 19 have type 1 diabetes.

24. Fiji – 30.2%

Located in the South Pacific Ocean, Fiji has a 30.2% obese population, where one in every three persons are diabetic.

It is believed that unhealthy food habits and sedentary lifestyles are some of the major causes of diabetes in the country. It is a silent killer that contributes to 188 of 100,000 deaths in Fiji.

25. Bahrain – 29.8%

The 25th on the list is Bahrain, situated in the Middle East, east of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It has a total population of 1,526,929, with an obesity rate of 29.8%.

Furthermore, 9% of the populace is affected by diabetes. The country has one of the highest percentages of diabetes-related deaths at 14% of the total.

26. Canada – 29.4%

Canada has an obesity rate of 29.4%, with 8.8% being diabetic – about 3 million. Diabetes is the cause of 21.4 deaths in every 100,000 Canadians, which is about 3.1% of the total mortality rate.

According to data, about 30% lack physical exercise for adults above 18 years old. Moreover, 17% have high blood pressure.

27. Australia – 29%

Australias

Of the total population of 25,809,973 Australians, 29% are obese and 4.9% are diabetic, which is one in every 20 Australian adults.

According to reports, about 1.2 million were hospitalized due to diabetes, and 16,700 deaths were caused by it.

Furthermore, type 2 diabetes is responsible for 2.2% of Australia’s diseases. It is estimated that more than 30,000 Australians are using insulin treatment.

28. Malta – 28.9%

A small country located in southern Europe, Malta has an obesity rate of 28.9%. The prevalence of diabetes is rising, with 10.1% of Maltese suffering from the disease.

The average life expectancy in Malta is 83 years, which is 80.91 for males and 85.19 for females. There are more obese males than females, with a percentage of 28.1% obese males and 23.9% obese females.

29. Mexico – 28.9%

Mexico has a 28.9% obese population, where 10.4% are diabetic and 63.4% are overweight. Diabetes is one of the leading causes of death, accounting for 14% of deaths in the country, which is estimated to be 76,000 deaths.

Obesity and diabetes are more prevalent in the female population than males, with a percentage of 65% and 11%, respectively.

30. South Africa – 28.3%

At the bottom of the list, South Africa is the 30th most obese country in the world, with an obesity rate of 28.3%. Out of 56,978,635 residents, 9.8% are diabetics and 51.9% are overweight.

Diabetes is responsible for 6% of the total mortality rate of the country, which is estimated to be 10,500 female deaths and 8,970 male deaths in the age group of 30 to 69 years old.

Moreover, 15,600 females and 15,900 males die from high blood sugar.

List of the Least Obese Countries

  1. 2.1% – Vietnam
  2. 3.6% – Bangladesh
  3. 3.8% – Timor-Leste
  4. 3.9% – India
  5. 3.9% – Cambodia
  6. 4.1% – Nepal
  7. 4.3% – Japan
  8. 4.5% – Ethiopia
  9. 4.7% – South Korea
  10. 5% – Eritrea

Frequently Asked Questions

What is obesity?

BMI

In simple terms, obesity is described as a person who is overweight according to their body mass index (BMI). The BMI indicates whether a person’s weight is proportional to their size.

A person can be overweight because of water content, muscle, or bone. However, in obesity, the body is considered overweight because of too much body fat than normal.

Obesity doesn’t happen overnight. It happens over time as a person overeats and lacks exercise.

If a person’s BMI is between 25 and 30, it is considered overweight, while a BMI above 30 is obese. Aside from computing the BMI, obesity can be determined with visible signs including excess body fat.

What are the causes of obesity?

The number one cause of obesity is eating too many fatty foods, including junk foods, sweets, meat, and processed food. Moreover, excessive alcohol consumption also leads to obesity.

Aside from excessive food intake, obesity is associated with a lack of exercise. Food and exercise are some controllable factors that can help prevent or treat obesity when modified.

Other causes of weight gain are underlying medical conditions such as hypothyroidism, pregnancy, medication, and metabolism. Moreover, genes and way of living contribute to weight gain.

How is overall health affected by obesity?

A person’s overall quality of life is affected by obesity since it interferes with their daily activities. For instance, obese people can have difficulty breathing and exercising and may feel ashamed and isolated.

Low self-esteem can have an impact on one’s productivity.

Besides affecting one’s quality of life, obesity can also cause many health problems, such as heart disease, cancer, osteoarthritis, asthma, liver disease, kidney disease, pregnancy complications, and sleep apnea.

How can obesity be treated?

The most effective way to treat obesity is lifestyle modification, which means eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly.

A person’s kilojoule intake should be reduced, and healthier food options must be prioritized, such as eating more fruits and vegetables.

A combination of diet and exercise will have the biggest impact. Thus, doing moderate to intense exercise is recommended, including walking, jogging, swimming, and playing various sports.

Keep in mind there is no quick treatment for obesity, so it will take a lot of time and patience to reach one’s weight goal. However, there are other ways that can aid in weight loss such as anti-obesity drugs and surgery.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has some recommendations on the proper food size consumption.

For instance, the recommended serving of rice or pasta per meal should be about the size of a tennis ball, while chopped raw vegetables or fruit should be like a baseball.

If you were to eat a serving of beans, it should be similar to the size of a billiard ball. For nuts or dried food, try eating a small portion like a golf ball.