America isn't the only country with a weight problem.

The U.S. takes a lot of flak for being fat, but a study published last month in The Lancet shows that obesity is in fact a global problem. Not only is roughly one-third of the world's population either obese or overweight, it turns out that, in the past thirty-three years, not one country on Earth has managed to reduce its rate of obesity.

Many of the study's biggest takeaways have been made available online, in the form of interactive visualizations, and clearly illustrate the global prevalence of obesity. Consider these key findings, highlighted by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation:

  • 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.


Some more key findings appear in the infographic at the end of this post, but the upshot is clear: The obesity epidemic is not confined to the United States. As study author Christopher Murray put it: "Obesity is an issue affecting people of all ages and incomes, everywhere."

[The Lancet via IHME]