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The World's Fattest Countries

fat, weight, weightloss, weight managementIn countries around the world, waistlines are expanding so rapidly that health experts recently coined a term for the epidemic: globesity.  One in three of the world’s adults is overweight and one in 10 is obese.

Here are the Top 10 Fattest Countries in the world, based on national health surveys the World Health Organization (WHO) compiled between 2000 and 2008.

1) American Samoa, 93.5 percent (of population that's overweight)

Traditionally, Pacific Islanders ate native foods high in complex carbohydrates and low in fat. That began to change dietary habits as family members abroad introduced those back home to Western eating.

2) Kiribati, 81.5 percent

Between 1964 and 2001, food imports to the least developed Pacific nations, such as Kiribati, increased six-fold. Those imports led to a huge influx in fatty food and processed meat, such as Spam and mutton flaps (fatty sheep scraps).

3) U.S., 66.7 percent

In the early 1960’s, 24 percent of Americans were overweight. Today, two-thirds of Americans are too fat, and the numbers on the scale keep going up. Health experts attribute the rise to an over-production of oil, fat and sugar -- the result of government farm subsidies started in the 1970’s that made it much cheaper to manufacture products like high fructose corn syrup, a common ingredient in processed foods.

4) Germany, 66.5 percent

When Germany found out that it was the fattest nation in Europe, health experts blamed the usual suspects: beer, fatty foods and lack of physical activity. Like the rest of the world, Germans are suffering from an easy availability of junk food and more sedentary jobs and lifestyles.

5) Egypt, 66 percent

In the 1960’s, Egypt produced enough food to feed its people a steady diet of red meat, poultry, lentils, maize and dairy products. But by the 1980’s, the population had outgrown food production, leading to an increase in food imports that created poorer eating habits.

6) Bosnia-Herzegovina, 62.9 percent

Smoking, drinking and eating unhealthy foods spiked during the war that ravaged the country from 1992 to 1995. Those living just above the poverty line are gaining weight the fastest, partly because of the tendency to fill up on cheap processed foods high in calories and low on nutritional value.

7) New Zealand, 62.7 percent

Researchers found that how much time New Zealand children spend watching television is a better predictor of obesity than what they eat or how much they exercise. The study found that 41 percent of the children who were overweight by age 26 were those who had watched the most TV.

8) Israel, 61.9 percent

In the past 30 years, the number of obese Israelis has tripled. As in most developed countries, obesity is most prevalent among Israelis with less education.

9) Croatia, 61.4 percent

Croatia is a victim of the globalization of the food market, which tends to suppress traditional diets as cheaper processed foods from the U.S. and Europe flood store shelves.

10) United Kingdom, 61 percent

A recent survey ranked the British among the bottom third of European nations in physical exercise, leading Health Secretary Andy Burnham to comment, "We're really in danger of being known as the best in the world for watching sport, but one of the worst for getting out there and doing it for ourselves."

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Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Many believe Americans are the fattest people on the planet, but as the above listing shows (based on national health surveys compiled by the World Health Organization between 2000 and 2008), obesity has clearly become a global problem.

There are several more or less obvious reasons for the dramatic rise in obesity since the 1970’s, including:

  • Increased consumption of highly processed food, especially fructose

  • Increased portion sizes of restaurant food and grocery products

  • Increased driving and computer use (sedentary activities)

  • Increased modernization

  • Certain medications

  • Endocrine disorders and genetics

  • Changing social perceptions of what is "normal" weight

All of these factors may make it seem as though obesity is somehow an inevitable price of modern life, but the thing to remember is that weight control is not the rocket science some would lead you to believe.

Regardless of the cause, or combination of causes, the solution remains the same. It all boils down to the lifestyle choices you make, no matter where you live.

And don’t fall into the trap of blaming your genes. Science has already debunked the "bad genes" theory, showing that good nutrition can overcome this predisposition.

The modern lifestyle, with its focus on convenience and speed, is still just one alternative. You can make different choices for yourself and your family… Although making certain lifestyle changes may not be easy, it is the only strategy that will work consistently.

The Four Tenets of Optimal Health -- The Real Answer to the Obesity Epidemic

These four tenets of optimal health and healthy weight remain the same, regardless of the cause for your weight gain:

  1. Eat a healthy diet that’s right for your nutritional type, paying very careful attention to keeping your insulin levels down

  2. Exercise

  3. Get plenty of sleep

  4. Manage your stress

First and foremost, obesity is a direct result of poor dietary choices and insufficient exercise.

Unfortunately, the food industry, and government itself, do not make it easy for you to avoid foods that ruin your health, as you can see in my previous article How the Food Industry is Deceiving You. But it is possible to take self-responsibility and make better, healthier choices.

By adhering to the basic four tenets of optimal health, you are safeguarding yourself against a multitude of the other health problems and serious diseases that follow in obesity’s wake.

Yes… It’s important to remember that obesity is not a matter of some superficial concept of beauty. There are real health ramifications to being seriously overweight.

A number of studies have demonstrated links between obesity and a whole host of serious medical conditions, such as:

Depression Gastro esophageal reflux Sleep apnea
Gout Osteoarthritis Gallbladder disease
Kidney disease Diabetes High blood pressure
High cholesterol Coronary artery disease Heart failure
Atrial fibrillation Stroke Pulmonary hypertension
Blood clots Dementia Numerous cancers

Other statistics on the danger of obesity includes:

  • People who are moderately obese live two to five years less than people that have ideal weight.

  • The lifespan of those who are severely obese might be reduced by five to 10 years.

  • The biggest threat of obesity is heart disease.

And for those who are struggling financially, please understand that whatever you save today by opting for cheap processed foods, you’ll end up paying for several times over later in life when your choices start taking a toll on your health.

You Simply HAVE to Cut Out the Sugar!

One of your most basic health principles is to eat a diet of whole, nutritious foods rather than the processed ones that line most grocery store shelves. This includes cutting out grains and sugar, which are two of the MAJOR culprits behind weight gain. What your body needs is nutrition, not artificial fillers and flavors.

More specifically the sugar fructose appears to be the primary culprit here. This topic is very important and I only want to touch on it here to let you know that, very soon, I’ll introduce a massive public health campaign to educate the public about this.

This interest has been inspired by Robert Lustig, MD who is a pediatric endocrinologist at the University of California San Francisco. He is a brilliant and inspired physician who, I believe, has uncovered a major piece of the health equation with this fructose issue.

So stay tuned folks, this is every bit as big and important as vitamin D and omega-3 fats.

Your Food Choices Have Everything to Do With Your Weight

I highly recommend you review my nutrition plan to help get your diet on the right track. Additionally, I strongly encourage you to consider nutritional typing as well, as this will tell you what specific ratio of protein, fats and carbs are best for your personal metabolism.

Nutritional typing is, in essence, a completely customized diet that is 100 percent free of fad diet lore.

Another aspect to keep in mind if you’re struggling with your weight is to review your protein consumption, as high-protein meals appear to increase fat burning. A number of studies have reached this conclusion and I’ve promoted increased protein intake combined with reduced grain and sugar consumption for weight control since the late 1990s.

I firmly believe it’s very important to eat some protein with every meal, as protein is the most satiating type of food, beating out carbohydrates and even healthy fat. And if you’re not hungry, you’re obviously going to be less prone to snacking on less than healthy foods.

Proteins are essential to the building, maintenance and repair of your body tissues such as your skin, internal organs and muscles. They are also the major components of your immune system and hormones. Unfortunately, in my experience, most people don't eat enough protein.

Your required protein intake will vary depending on your sex, height, weight and exercise levels. However, the “normal” protein intake ranges from 20 to 50 grams at each meal.

Proteins are found in all types of food, but only meat, eggs, cheese and other foods from animal sources contain complete proteins, meaning they provide the eight essential amino acids.

My favorite sources of protein include:

For whole foods, 3 ounces of most meats will provide about 20 to 25 grams of protein and one egg contains about six grams.

Can You Lose Weight and Optimize Your Health Without Exercise?

No. A healthy diet and exercise really go hand in hand when it comes to overall health and weight management.

If you are overweight, you will need at least 30 minutes of exercise a day to experience any weight loss benefits. Major studies have shown that 60 minutes a day is best.

Ideally, your exercises should be broken up with short breaks in between for maximum effectiveness. I’ve published many stories about the benefits of interval training, which has led me to incorporate interval training (sprints) with endurance cardio training (running) in my own routine. But you don't have to run to achieve these benefits. You can receive similar effects by using properly supervised weight training.

Interval training is also a welcome relief for those who dread, or don’t have time for hour-long cardio workouts.

Remember, changing your eating habits, getting to bed at a decent hour, learning to say “no” when you’re overloaded, and going for a brisk walk will cost you little or nothing. But the rewards of paying close attention to these four basic tenets of health can be priceless.

+ Sources and References