You Thought The U.S. Was The Most Obese Country? Think Again

Everyone naturally assumes that the U.S. has the highest obesity rate in the world, but you know what they say about assumptions. The Times reports that a comprehensive study released earlier in the week says that 26% of adult Australians, nearly four-million, are obese. Ok, the U.S. comes in at 25% but that’s one whole percent less than 26! In your fat face, Australia! Details, inside…

According to The Age in Australia,

The report, entitled Australia’s Future Fat Bomb, was released ahead of the federal government’s obesity inquiry.

It presents the results of height and weight checks carried out on 14,000 adult Australians nationwide in 2005, giving the most thorough picture of obesity since the AusDiab study in 1999.

The report reveals that nine million adults have a BMI over 25, making them overweight or obese, an increase from seven million.

Four million are obese, up from three million.

Middle-aged Australians are leading the way, with seven in 10 men and six in 10 women aged 45 to 64 now registering a BMI of 25 or more.

An analysis of the data shows that there will be an extra 700,000 heart-related hospital admissions in the next 20 years due to obesity alone.

Almost 125,000 people will die as a result, many prematurely.

Enjoy your heavyweight title while it lasts Australia, we’ll see you next year.

Australia wins world heavyweight title [The Age]
Australia beats US to title of most obese nation, report finds [The Times]
(Photo: earth2kim)


Edit Your Comment

  1. nataku8_e30 says:

    I’m willing to bet if you re-calculated the US’s average using only people living south of the mason-dixon line, the US’d blow those Aussies out of the water!

    Disclaimer: I do live in Houston, TX, America’s fattest city. Smoked meat is a major source of air pollution here…

  2. We still have more people over all than Oz, which means we are still fatter.

  3. Crrusherr says:

    well considering that a bmi of 25 means that a 6 ft tall person can only weigh 185lbs i do not recgnize this as being over weight. there for the results of this study mean nothing

  4. ARP says:

    @nataku83: Sir, you have offended the likes of Milwaukee and Chicago, and I bid you good day.

    It sounds like the reasons are the same:

    1) Car culture and spread out cities
    2) Culturally poor diet
    3) Big importer of US culture (esp. food)

  5. scott5834 says:

    @nataku83: Houston isn’t the fattest city by Men’s Health’s stupid measurements. In fact, they named it the 13th fittest city this year. Fattest to fit in 2 years!

    Based on BMI (the correct way to measure obesity in populations), other cities take the cake, in particular Memphis, Birmingham, San Antonio, and Riverside. San Diego is fatter than Houston.

  6. apotheosis says:


    3) Big importer of US culture (esp. food)

    Awesome. Now the US isn’t just fat, it’s also to blame for everyone else’s fat. Apparently, if the US were eliminated, the whole world would be populated by thin, toned, beautiful poets.

    We rock the house, y’all.

  7. Me - now with more humidity says:

    93.4% of all statistics are made up on the spot.

  8. failurate says:

    I don’t understand the “Importer of American Culture” bit. Since we have very similar origins, wouldn’t it be odd if we didn’t have similar culture?

    Let’s blame the U.K.

  9. Saboth says:

    The reason people in the US are fat is because they will drive around a Walmart parking lot for 10 minutes to find a spot rather than just park an extra 50 feet away immediately and walk. Also: soda.

  10. ValdisJahoovafat says:

    BMI might be the only FEASIBLE way to measure, but it’s far from
    accurate or correct. Since BMI doesn’t take muscle mass into account,
    it tends to classify many fit people as overweight or obese. It’s
    entirely possible that Australia only SEEMS overweight because of a
    larger number of muscular adults.

    I’ve heard wrestling crocodiles will do that too you.

  11. Gopher bond says:

    @Me: Forfty percent of all people know that.

  12. satoru says:

    @ARP: I think Australia has more in common with Hawaii in terms of how their obesity problems manifest themselves. They have a unique set of geography and cultural things that have little in common with their mainland equivalents.

    I think a more interesting statistic would be to see what the ratio of obese is versus the morbidly obese. I think here the USA would still probably win?

  13. satoru says:

    @Saboth: Actually I heard a very interesting interview recently correlating obesity with poverty. Historically, if you were poor, then by definition you couldn’t buy food and thus were malnourished.

    However with the advent of processed foods, it is now CHEAPER to eat unhealthy processed foods, than to eat non-processed foods. Thus if you live in a 1st world country and you’re poor, the problem isn’t access to food, the problem is the quality and nutritional content of the food you can afford. So theoretically, we could offset a lot of health issues by somehow making good food as inexpensive as their processed counterparts.

  14. Shutaro says:

    C’mon guys! We can’t let Australia beat us! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! *goes for another donut*

  15. jst07 says:

    @Crrusherr: I don’t agree with the BMI system either. If I reached my goal of 200lbs at 5′ 10″ by weight lifting, and slipping into about a 10% body fat, I’d be obese.

  16. PDX909 says:

    That is one big assed cat.

  17. Scuba Steve says:

    @PDX909: Gotta love the cat pictures.

  18. battra92 says:

    @apotheosis: []

    As for me, I’m moving down on the weight scale so I’m doing my part to reduce the size of people.

    One of my big motivating factors is that I’m not attracted to heavy women and it would be hypocritical to be overweight and requiring my dates to be thin.

  19. Burgandy says:

    @apotheosis: Resistance is futile.

  20. Lambasted says:

    I don’t believe it! The results must have been fixed. The Gulf Coast states alone could eat the whole of Australia with a little hot sauce and cheese sprinkled on it. And they would still have room leftover for dessert–which would be the continent of Asia washed down with some milk (whole, not skim).

    And let’s not forget our Heartland folks. They aren’t called hearty “meat and potatoes” stock for nothing.

    There is a reason why “Mom and apple pie” is an American expression. Gotta love your momma…just not on an empty stomach.

    Please America, I beg you not to get too excited over these results and go out eating to celebrate.

  21. Snakeophelia says:

    I live in Philly. I recently visited Australia. There is NO comparison. Maybe Australia’s got more folks who are juuuuust over the cutoff for “overweight”, but I didn’t see any Aussie versions of the massive adults, teenagers, and even kids that I see here in Philly.

    Yeah, I think USA is still Number One when it comes to truly obese folks.

  22. Gopher bond says:

    @Snakeophelia: I doubt Australia has hundreds of people lined up at 2 A.M. to eat mutilated steak smoothered with hot cheese-like sauce.

  23. Channing says:

    I’m obese. I am also 5′ so I’d need to be like 90lbs to be ok. I can’t imagine any grown adult being 90lbs.

    I’m short so I could farm better, damn it!

  24. Rock79 says:

    Nah. Going to have to stick with Canada + US being the top contenders for obesity in the world. I don’t buy these stats.

  25. therosiandoom says:

    Unfortunately, BMI measurements are only accurate for a specific subset of population; as they do not take into account percentage of body weight that may be muscle, and furthermore assumes that the population in question is more or less sedentary.

    It’s rather infamous for classifying bodybuilders as obese, and shouldn’t really be taken too seriously…

  26. maztec says:


    U.S. Population Estimate: 301,139,947
    Australia Population Estimate: 20,434,176

    25% of U.S. = 75,284,986.8 [.8 = partially obese person :]
    26% of Australia = 5,312,885.76 [.76 = someone slightly less obese than .8 :]

    75mil > 5mil.

    While by percent Australia is more obese – in terms of raw statistics, the U.S. has more obese people than Australia has in entire population.

    The U.S. is definitely PHAT! Er.. fatter.

  27. richcreamerybutter says:

    Obviously there are the everyday genetic, aging, and life experience (e.g. pregnancy) factors that will contribute to a modicum of heartiness. You can tell when someone enjoys quality food and drink, but is also very active in their daily life. They may be a little portly, but the muscles underneath are nicely formed and you can tell they are in overall great health (think of the Pacific Northwest, or charming older Europeans).

    Then, you travel to a car cultured, processed food area in which everyone uniformly has these “pillowy” torsos. This scares the shit out of me, because it rarely has anything to do with the above factors; it’s all about lousy behavior. If I’m waiting for a connecting flight in one of these airports, it takes every ounce of self-control not to break out in a Tourettic fit of the “Fatty Boombalatty” song and dance. Yes, I am a terrible person.

  28. snoop-blog says:

    I don’t know. If someone want to be fat, and eat unhealthy, isn’t it their right? I understand about healthcosts, but it’s a little nazi’ish to say, well it’s your fault your fat, I shouldn’t have to help you pay for it.

  29. battra92 says:

    @richcreamerybutter: (think of the Pacific Northwest, or charming older Europeans).

    I call BS. See my above link.

  30. synergy says:

    So Oz only has a population of about 16mil? That’s the population of about NY, LA, and Chicago. Sheer numbers, guestimation says there’s ~4mil Aussies obese whereas there’s some 75mil Americans obese. That’s nearly 20 times as many obese people, period.

  31. synergy says:

    @maztec: Whoops. You’d beat me to the raw numbers post! :D

  32. @maztec:

    Yeah my thoughts exactly. That’s like getting two different sized balloons and filling them both up with about a liter of water, the smaller balloon fills up all the way and the bigger one fills up about 1/4 of the way and saying the smaller one has more water.

  33. hexychick says:

    BMI is such a BS system of measuring. It doesn’t take muscle mass, bone density, body structure, or anything else into account. It is the most inaccurate obesity scale on the planet and it’s ridiculous to keep using it. Someone who is 5’8″ and is rock solid body builder at 200 pounds with 5% body fat would be considered obese by this scale because it’s height and weight only.

  34. hexychick says:

    @hexychick: That being said, the study is totally off kilter just based on the USA having a significantly larger population. We’re still fat and still bigger than most.

  35. alice_bunnie says:


    I’m willing to bet if you re-calculated the US’s average using only people living south of the mason-dixon line

    Well, then it wouldn’t be the US average, would it?

  36. jesmcb says:

    Also I read that there are disparities between the studies used in each country. For instance, studies in the UK and France on BMI are based on what the patient REPORTED, rather than being actually weighed. Whereas in the U.S. these studies are based on the number on the scales. Obviously, the first method would induce people to fudge the numbers a little…

  37. Bakkster_Man says:

    @hexychick: While I agree wholeheartedly that BMI is pure BS (just like IQ is), population wouldn’t change the results. As long as both sample sizes are statistically significant (they likely are), you can still say that a larger proportion of Aussies are heavier (though not necessarily fatter). Just because America has more heavy people than Australia has people, doesn’t mean that the average American is more likely to have a high BMI than the average Aussie. Take the study for what it is: you’re more likely to be heavy if you’re an Aussie, but not by much.

    I still think they get their BMI from that extra muscle mass that comes with wrestling crocodiles and keeping dingos from eating their babies.

  38. katylostherart says:

    so basically we still win in numbers and they just win in ratio.

    let’s share a trophy made out of pancakes!

  39. The USA is such a huge place with almost 1/3 of a billion – so a more refined measurement would be valid…..

    Seperating East South North MidWest Urban Rural etc.

    There probably are vast differences among big city pedestrians compared to rural drivers

    Also having such diverse ethnicity …. some groups are naturally tall and lean and will rarely get obese during their young and middle aged years, while some are short and stocky with many being overweight even as teens.