Top 10 Most Obese Countries

Posted on September 19, 2016 and updated November 24, 2016 in Life Insurance Canada News 6 min read
most obese countries

Obesity is not a disease, but it can lead to a wide range of health conditions such as diabetes, liver disease, hypertension and cardiovascular disease, as well as breast, colon and prostate cancer. Obesity is classified as having a body mass index over 30 kg/m2. The problem exists all over the world and has seen a steady increase over the past few decades.

According to the CIA’s World Factbook, the most obese countries are smaller nations such as American Samoa (74.6%), Nauru (71%), Cook Islands (63.7%) and Tokelau (63.4%), indicating there is no direct connection between obesity and the economic status of a country. Canada comes in at #48 on the list.

The World Health Organization says that a shortage of food and rising prices contribute to obesity in underdeveloped countries because the people find it difficult to eat a well-balanced, healthy diet. Filling up on empty calories and fried foods is usually their only option. The scorching heat is also a factor because people’s physical activity levels are seriously reduced in extreme temperatures. The African continent is the exception, not including South Africa which has adopted many westernized lifestyles and become quite obese.

Obesity Rates Around the World

Pacific Island nations aside, the top 10 most obese countries in the world, according to World Obesity, are:

Egypt – 48.1% of women and 22.4% of men
United States – 40.4% of women and 35% of men
Venezuela – 32.4% of women and 34.2% of men
Libyan Arab Jamahiriya – 40.1% of women and 21.4% of men
Mexico – 37.5% of women and 26.8% of men
Iraq – 38.2% of women and 26.2% of men
Paraguay – 35.7% of women and 22.9% of men
South Africa – 39.2% of women and 10.6% of men
Saudi Arabia – 33.5% of women and 24.1 % of men
New Zealand – 32% of women and 29.4% of men

Canada didn’t make the top 10 list of most obese countries. The survey cited that 23% of Canadian women and 27.6% of Canadian men are obese. However, those numbers are still quite high and if you fall into this category, you might want to consider some lifestyle changes.

Obesity and Life Insurance

If you have a weight problem, especially if you are obese, you could be denied life insurance coverage. This is because obesity often leads to other health conditions and insurance underwriters combine all risk variables to determine the classification given to an applicant.

A good broker can often assist in high risk cases by requesting a preliminary offer from the insurance company or sending a cover letter with the application. Ironically, many insurance companies use the same height and weight tables for males and females, so a cover letter explaining lifestyle issues or other variables can make a difference.

However, there is another option for obese applicants – Simplified Issue Life Insurance. These types of policies don’t require medical tests and have fewer health questions. They come with higher premiums and lower face amounts, but pricing options have improved significantly in recent years.

The face amount of coverage is limited and the premiums on these policies are higher because the risk of potential loss is much greater. The chances of an insurance company paying out a claim for a life insurance policy without a medical exam is more likely than from a traditional policy.

When applying for a traditional insurance plan, you must have a regular medical exam. If your health is good and the medical history of your family is good, you may be approved for standard or even preferred rates. If you are deemed a health risk, you will be rated a high-risk applicant and charged extra or declined altogether.

A New Look at Obesity

Many organizations, including the Canadian Obesity Network, the Canadian Medical Association, the American Medical Association and the World Health Organization, now consider obesity to be a chronic, progressive disease, much like high blood pressure or diabetes. It is characterized by an excessive amount of body fat that can seriously affect your health.

Obesity has been described as a complex phenomenon involving a diverse and interactive group of factors including biological, behavioural and societal. Genetics also play a large role, however, genes are not the only players. Your physical environment, social activities, cultural practices and daily habits also make important contributions. You can’t do much about your genes, but the other factors can be controlled, modified or discontinued.

In most cases, obesity occurs when you consume more calories than you burn, which means most people can prevent obesity. By eating right and exercising regularly, you should be able to control your weight, to some extent. You might never be slim and trim, but you may be able to get your weight down to a healthy level and qualify for a better life insurance plan at better rates.

Research has recently discovered more causes for obesity such as genetic factors and hormonal changes that can affect your appetite, energy level and fat metabolism. If you are born with a low metabolism plus lead a sedentary and unhealthy lifestyle, you are at a much higher risk of becoming obese than an active person with a high metabolism.

Doctors believe psychological factors might also contribute to obesity. A traumatic experience, emotional problems, depression and low self-esteem can all lead to excessive eating as a coping method. These problems also contribute to a lack of energy. Combined, all these factors are very likely to cause weight gain.

Lorne Marr, a lifelong advocate of healthy living recently launched FitAfter45, a website dedicated to providing expert opinions on how to stay fit later on in life. Here is Lorne’s take on how to combat obesity:

  • Set a plan of action, determine what your goals are and set up an action plan to make those goals a reality.
  • In terms of nutrition, look for nutrient dense foods: lots of vegetables, seeds and lean protein.
  • Have a glass water 15 minutes before each meal, this will help you eat less. Regarding your workouts, check with a doctor first to make sure you’re good to go. Once you get the green light, find something you enjoy and build your workouts into your schedule like any other appointment.
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mhikl
mhikl

Strange to see that Canadian men are more obese than women. It is certainly not what other sites say, especially over the past five years.
As well, it certainly is not what is witnessed on the streets in my city, Calgary, where women are substantially overweight in comparison to me. This pertains to very fat women. Regarding thin and moderately overweight, it isn’t so easy to discern any differences. It used to be reported, on other credible sites that men were more overweight. Time change.
Namaste and care,
mhikl