Map of the Day: Where Obeisity Carries the Highest Burden

The Lancet published a new Gates-backed study examining rates of obesity and overweight worldwide.  The results are not encouraging. While the rate of obesity has slowed down in the developed world since 2006, the developing world is now catching up. It also finds that an astounding 30% of the world is overweight–and 13% of all overweight people in the world live in the USA. In all, the report finds that overweight and obesity cause an estimated 3.9 million deaths worldwide.

Some other key findings, from the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation: 

Key findings:

  • More than 50% of the world’s 671 million obese live in 10 countries (ranked beginning with the countries with the most obese people): US, China, India, Russia, Brazil, Mexico, Egypt, Germany, Pakistan, and Indonesia.
  • The US, United Kingdom, and Australia are among the high-income countries with large gains in obesity among men and women.
  • Over the 33-year period of research, the Middle East showed large increases in obesity. Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Kuwait were among the countries with the largest increases in obesity globally.
  • In six countries, all in the Middle East and Oceania – Kuwait, Kiribati, the Federated States of Micronesia, Libya, Qatar, and Samoa – the prevalence of obesity for women exceeds 50%. In Tonga, both men and women have obesity prevalence over 50%.
  • In sub-Saharan Africa, the highest obesity rates (42%) are seen among South African women.


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The toll that these conditions inflict on the health of individuals is substantial: diabetes, heart disease, hypertension are all associated with overweight and obesity. The burden that these conditions takes on health systems can be profound, particularly in the developing world. Being overweight and obese is expensive for the individual and society. It’s an obstacle to personal health and economic development.