That obesity is classified as a disease is a fact and its statistics confirm that it has become a global epidemic.

Almost every country in the world has this epidemic on hand. And their governments are making every attempt to bring about awareness among their people of the adverse effects of this disease on health.

Obesity and overweight problems are not just seen in adults but the alarming rise is prevalent in children too, exposing these young individuals to health risks at a young age.

What do being obese and overweight mean?

Obesity and overweight are both defined as the accumulation of extra or excess fat in the body.

The difference between the two lies in the proportion of body fat gained. You may graduate from normal weight to becoming overweight. Any further accumulation of fat would then put you in the obesity category.

BMI is an index, which tells you whether you are underweight, of normal weight, overweight or obese.

It takes into account the weight with respect to the height of the person. For example, a particular weight could be normal in a person with a bigger height, while the same weight will put a shorter person into an overweight or obese category.

It is calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height². For adults, the World Health Organization (WHO) defines overweight and obesity as follows:

  • Overweight: BMI greater than or equal to 25
  • Obesity: BMI greater than or equal to 30

This equation stands the same for both men and women.

Global obesity facts

  • The prevalent obesity numbers point to the main causes of obesity as being unhealthy eating trends and lifestyle habits, which are increasing the prevalence of obesity among the world population.
  • Global obesity statistics of 2005 showed that 1.6 billion people were overweight of which 400 million were obese.
  • In 2016, more than 1.9 billion adults were overweight. Of these more than 650 million adults were obese.
  • In 2016, about 13% of the world’s adult population (more women than men) was obese.
  • The prevalence of obesity nearly tripled between 1975 and 2016.
  • For the first time in world history, the number of overfed (overweight) people equals the number of underfed people.
  • Overweight and obesity are now on the rise in low-income countries.
  • Obesity prevalence is highest in the United States and Mexico and lowest in Japan and Korea. But, the prevalence is increasing everywhere in the world.
  • An obese person spends at least 25% more on healthcare than a person of normal weight.
  • Childhood obesity is also showing similar trends. More than 340 million children and adolescents between the ages of 5-19 years were overweight or obese in 2016.
  • The rising trend is seen by the fact that from just 4% in 1975 overweight and obesity rates rose to over 18% in 2016.

Obesity statistics in the United States

Obesity statistics in America need a special mention because obesity in the U.S. is showing alarming proportions and trends and the U.S. heads the list for the highest percent of obese people.

  • More than one-third (36.5%) of U.S. adults are obese.
  • The rate is highest among Non-Hispanic blacks (48.1%), followed by Hispanics (42.5%), non-Hispanic whites (34.5%), and non-Hispanic Asians (11.7%). A Hispanic is an American citizen of Latin-American origin.
  • Obesity is higher among middle-aged and older adults than among young people.
  • It is also more common among affluent people than people with lower incomes.
  • One-third of Americans are overweight and another one-third are obese.
  • About 7.7 % of Americans are morbidly obese.
  • In 2008, the annual medical cost for an obese individual was $1,429 more than a person with normal weight.

Chart of obesity statistics by country

The country with the highest obesity rate is American Samoa. This country consists of a group of islands, situated to the east of Australia and is an unincorporated territory of the United States.

This country has an obesity prevalence, which is a whopping 93.5% of the total population, which incidentally translates to 53000 individuals only considering its low population.

The percentages shown below of countries are percentages of the total population with a BMI of more than 30kg/m2

Obesity statistics are shown here with the top 10 countries “boasting” of their obesity statistics.

United States 30.6%
Mexico 24.2%
United Kingdom 23%
Slovakia 22.4%
Greece 21.9%
Australia 21.7%
New Zealand 20.9%
Hungary 18.8%
Luxembourg 18.4%
Czech Republic 14.8%

Below is a chart showing obesity statistics of the top five countries with the highest percentages of obese adult men and women.

Country Women Men.
USA 36% 32%
Mexico 35% 24%
Chile 32% 19%
New Zealand 27% 26%
U.K. 25% 24%

These alarming obesity numbers imply that the world population is becoming an unhealthy race.

Obesity has health risks and complications that span almost all body systems. Obesity increases your risk of a heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, asthma, erectile dysfunction, sterility, complications in pregnancy, and a lot more. Awareness is required and the trend has to reverse.