Traditionally associated with an affluent lifestyle, obesity is becoming more and more commonplace in countries that are associated with wealth. For example, oil-rich OPEC countries such as Kuwait and Qatar are now listed as No. 4 and 5 respectively. The vast majority of the obese in these countries are women, with 50 percent of Kuwaiti women affected. Culture may have a role to play in these countries where women are often encouraged to stay at home and take care of the family, but their health is often adversely affected in the process.
Other countries such as Tonga, Samoa, and Kiribati dominate the first three positions on the list of obesity. This can be attributed to an obesity-gene that is now obsolete in today’s globalized world and other cultural factors such associating large body sizes with wealth and power. Pacific islanders have more access to food than was ever possible in their past, but most of that food comes processed instead of fresh. In the past, trans-pacific travel was often a dangerous trek; it was possible for one boat not see land for hundreds, even thousands of miles. Higher propensity to store fat saved travelers from starvation. While modern transportation has mostly solved this problem, obesity has skyrocketed.
So what we have here are two distinct trends in relation to countries who dominate the top of the obesity list: affluence and fat-storing genes in a modern setting. While the solution to these problems remain unclear, the World Health Organisation would have us believe that this issue is mainly a “political one”. Concerted effort and further research is needed to combat the rise of obesity. Below is a list of the top ten obese countries as of 2014:
6. Marshall Islands
Written by Guillaume Lapointe-Gagner
Source: Kuwait Times