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Statistics on International Obesity Epidemic

The Whole World Has Opinions on Obesity

What began as an American epidemic has gone global and the health issues surrounding obesity are now felt around the world. According to a World Health Organization report, one billion adults are overweight worldwide and three million are considered obese. These figures prompted Reader's Digest to poll 16,000 people from 16 countries about weight and weight loss.

  • While 70 percent of Russians are more likely to blame their genes for their weight issues (in the US the figure is only 20 percent), the French are most likely to point the finger at the US for having a hand in the international obesity epidemic. The French believe American fast food has created poor eating habits worldwide.
  • Using cigarettes and appetite suppressants are no way to shed pounds, but in Russia,18 percent of women admit to smoking cigarettes in order to lose weight. In the US, only five percent employs this hazardous technique.

To learn which country wishes there was a magic pill for losing weight


  • China has the highest usage of diet pills with 37 percent reporting trying to drop pounds with the help of a pill. The gender split, however, is enlightening for 48 percent of Chinese women admit to taking diet pills compared to 18 percent of men.
  • The gender split in the US on the state of our mates, is interesting as well — 51 percent of married women in the US would like to see their husband lose weight while only 47 percent of married men wish the same thing about their wives.
  • Internationally, the pressure to feel thin is highest in Brazil with 83 percent responding that there is too much emphasis on weight. The Brazilians are followed by India (68%) and the US (62%).
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