Feast Your Eyes: The United States Is No Longer the Fattest Country Chart: The United States Is No Longer the Fattest Country Feast Your Eyes: The United States Is No Longer the Fattest Country Chart: The United States Is No Longer the Fattest Country
The GOOD Life

Feast Your Eyes: The United States Is No Longer the Fattest Country Chart: The United States Is No Longer the Fattest Country

by Peter Smith

February 12, 2011

It's not exactly good news, but the United States is no longer the world's fattest nation. It turns out that the rest of the world is gaining on us, putting on more weight at a faster pace. This is especially true in Pacific island nations and in the Middle East, where the United Arab Emirates Kuwait now represents the world's fattest industrialized nation. Both regions seem to be struggling to adapt to modern, sedentary lifestyles over a rather short period of time.

The most recent data comes from an exhaustive country-by-country report on obesity from the Imperial College London, Harvard University, and the World Health Organization, which was published in The Lancet. A Body Mass Index (shown on the x and y axis above) is a measure of body fat based on height and weight. A score of 25 to 30 corresponds with being overweight (represented by the light tan box above), while above 30 is obese (the dark tan box). As you can see, Pacific islanders (purple dots) had the highest BMI levels. Most of Europe (green dots) appears to be overweight, especially men (those green dots below the dotted line).

For an even more comprehensive breakdown of data, the study provides a rather impressive (and somewhat mind-boggling) visualization tool for body mass index, cholesterol, and blood pressure for all 199 countries for gender and age.

Altogether, this means that one in nine people around the world are obese—highlighting the growing global problem with overnutrition and the urgent need to both increase physical activity and to eat healthier. What will it take? New dietary guidelines? Better instructional tool to visualize those guidelines? Or something else entirely?

Chart: Wilson Andrews and Todd Lindeman of The Washington Post, created with data from Global Burden of Metabolic Risk Factors of Chronic Diseases Collaborating Group.

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Feast Your Eyes: The United States Is No Longer the Fattest Country Chart: The United States Is No Longer the Fattest Country