World Obesity Stats – 2010 and Beyond

world obesity statistics OEC countries Infographic 2013
World Obesity Statistics for OEC Contries 2010

Since the 1980s, obesity has spread at an alarming rate.  Across OECD countries, one in 2 adults is currently overweight and 1 in 6 is obese.  The rate of overweight people is projected to increase by a further 1% per year for the next 10 years in some countries.

Rates are highest in the United States and Mexico and lowest in Japan and Korea, but have been growing virtually everywhere.

world obesity statistics by country 2010
Rates of Obesity and Overweight Persons by Country 2010

And it’s not just us grown-ups. Our kids haven’t been spared – we have allowed 1 in 3 of the world’s kids to become overweight.

And if dooming our kids to a lifetime of obesity and nasty nicknames wasn’t bad enough, we’re also shortening the lifespans.

And even if they can handle the teasing and their imminent early death, do we really want to burden them with increasing amounts of healthcare debt?

  • Obesity is a burden on health systems, with health care expenditure for an obese person at least 25% higher than for someone of normal weight.

So, what are we going to do?

According to the OECD, cooperation between governments and the private sector is key to the success of combating obesity.

A prevention strategy combining health promotion campaigns, government regulation and family doctors counselling their obese patients would avoid hundreds of thousands of deaths from chronic diseases every year. It would cost from USD 10 to USD 30 per person, depending on the country. Failure would impose heavy burdens of future generations.

Question for the OECD

I will agree that cooperation between government & the private sector is undoubtedly very important in reversing global obesity, but what about the impact of us – regular people?

Why does the OECD assume that only government & business can impact change?

I see community groups springing up all over the U.S. attempting to reverse obesity in their little corner of the world. And unlike most large-scale anti-obesity programs, some of these people-centric programs actually work.

I also see online health & fitness communities sharing advice & experience with each other.

All without spending a bazillion tax dollars in order to tell us what we already know.


Douglas Robb

Doug Robb is a personal trainer, a fitness blogger and author, a competitive athlete, and a student of nutrition and exercise science. He's also the co-founder of the Hive Health Media. Since 2008, Doug has expanded his impact by bringing his real-world experience online via the health & fitness blog – Health Habits.

17 thoughts on “World Obesity Stats – 2010 and Beyond

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  • August 4, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    The amount of obesity in this country is staggering. I am so appalled seeing young people who are already heavy before being in their teens. We need to take responsibility for this and get the older folks to get off their rears and set an example for the children.

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  • May 12, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    The obesity trends are alarming for most countries, except a few. USA and Mexico have near about 70% overweight adult population is way too much. India and China have only 1% and 2% obese adults is the only good trend.

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  • September 28, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    I can’t help but think that obesity is actually a way to see improvement in the world, such as being well fed and being able to afford a lifestyle that is mostly sedentary. This leads me to believe more food is being spread world wide, and work has become less labor and more desk jockey like.

    While I can’t say its good we are getting obese, people are actually living longer now then other. Getting people to want to exercise will always be a problem- at least they are fed, with easier jobs, and living long lifes.

    • December 5, 2010 at 3:15 pm

      Jesse, that’s certainly one perspective–that obesity reflects the surplus of available food in certain countries. It’s a complex issue though that also reflects several other factors.

    • February 13, 2012 at 12:22 pm

      r u challenged, it means were growing like a bunch of fat ass cows. japan died from 18 heart attacks when it was only half of united states population while united state had over 14000 deaths from heart attack. obesity is fucking bad.

  • September 28, 2010 at 10:59 am

    Yikes! That is one scary chart! (The first one with the percentages rising). We’re getting too lazy and get too little movement.

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  • September 27, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    Doug, I lived in the United States for 3 years–so I’m not surprised that they’re at the top of the list. I’ve also lived in Toronto like you.

    Comparing restaurants alone between Toronto and the U.S, there are some vast differences. Nearly every restaurant in the U.S. serves enormous portions, you could feed 3 adults with one entree!

    These stats are certainly alarming though it’s a complex problem with no simple solution. Maybe impose a tax on high fructose corn syrup? ;) Call it the Twinkie tax bill?

  • September 27, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    No one can force an obese person to change their habits just as no one can force an alcoholic to stop drinking. You can encourage them but the motivation to change has to come from within.

    • September 27, 2010 at 3:34 pm

      And that’s the question that I keep coming back to.

      When billions of gov’t healthcare dollars are being spent treating conditions brought about by poor diet & inactivity, it makes good business sense to encourage healthier behavior nationwide (planet-wide?)

      And you know that gov’ts love to tax people.

      They got a lot of people to quit smoking by taxing that bad habit…why wouldn’t they try and tax us out of our poor eating habits?

      • April 1, 2011 at 8:43 am

        There’s an idea, fight depression by introducing more drugs! People aren’t overweight because they made bad decisions. So many of the pleasures of the majority (the working man) have already either been taxed to death, made illegal or inaccessible. I’d bet your idea of camping is a nice hotel in the mountains. Use fees on state parks that we already paid for, ORV areas closed off, hunting areas reduced or eliminated. I used to workout for months before a hunting trip. Now I can’t afford the license, much less the fuel.

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