Expanding Waistlines Around the World

Obesity is far from just an American problem. These nifty maps from the Economist display average BMI for males around the world in 1980 and 2008, and the percentage change. The maps demonstrate that “Polynesia aside, obesity was a rich-world phenomenon in 1980. By 2008 the rich world had itself expanded, bringing obesity to groups within countries that were previously considered poor, such as Brazil and South Africa. During that period, the prevalence rate of obesity among men doubled to nearly 10%. One country has stubbornly resisted this trend. For all its dynamism since India opened up its economy in 1990, its men have on average become even thinner. The study suggests that Congo is the thinnest country in the world, and Nauru the fattest.” [%comments]


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  1. G says:

    This is a personal responsibility problem.

    Liberals will be all over themselves to set up a universal health system that will bankrupt the country.

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  2. Owen says:

    Take it from someone that’s a spent a lot of time in India. The average is highly misleading. If the middle class and upper class were measured separately from the starving poor it would be a completely different story.

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  3. Julia says:

    Obesity is a growing problem in the world. I think a lot of peoples eating and exercise habits have to do with how their parents are raising them. If they grow up eating wrong with their families, through out their life time they will keep the same eating habits. Families need to make healthy eating choices and make exercising a fun activity to do with their children.

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  4. Jay, New York, NY says:

    Intersting. But I’m not sure how reliable the data from India/EMs would be. First, it would be highly skewed, as in rich vs poor, rich being more obese, but the sheer quantity of thin poor bringing the entire population statistic down.
    Second, It would suffer from survivorship bias, as in the high mortality rate among the poor and not be counted in the data. I would assume this would affect to some degree.

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  5. Maureen says:

    How much of this trend can be explained by an aging population? BMI peaks around age 55. If we have a higher proportion of males age 20 and older in the 50-60 year old category, does that skew the results? Does anyone report age-adjusted obesity rates?

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  6. Shaun F says:

    So people should stop saying that America is full of fat people.
    Also body fat % could be genetic and people have the same nationalities have similar genetics. Not just by who eats the most junk food and does least activity.

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  7. Dave Henderson says:

    BMI is a poor measure since it is a ratio of one’s mass to the square of one’s height. A person who is carrying 30 kg of extra mass because of muscle (which has significantly higher density than fat) is placed in the same category as a person carry 30 kg of extra mass from fat.

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  8. Mantonat says:

    Poverty can now cease to be measured by scarcity of food and can instead be measured by scarcity of mobile devices.

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