NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Weight Is Health Concern In Many Countries

November 3, 2000

Even in a number of relatively poor countries, overweight is growing health concern, according to obesity experts. Some poor countries have a larger proportion of overweight or obese people than the U.S. does.

According to data from Philip James, chairman of the International Obesity Task Force:

  • In the U.S., about 55 percent of people are overweight or obese.
  • In urban Samoa, 58 percent of the men and 77 percent of the women are obese, roughly 30 pounds over a healthy weight.
  • In Romania, about 39 percent of men and 32 percent of women are overweight -- roughly 15 pounds or more over a healthy weight -- and 21 percent of men and 27 percent of women are obese.
  • "Russia and the Czech Republic are not far behind," James says.

By contrast, China has one of the world's lowest rates -- only 2 percent of men and 6 percent of women are obese.

The percentage of Americans who are obese has almost doubled since 1960, James says. That year, 10 percent of men and 15 percent of women were obese; now 20 percent of men and 25 percent of women are obese. Similarly, the number of obese people has doubled in most countries in the past 20 years.

Source: Nanci Hellmich, "Weight of world on our shoulders Everyone's fatter, thanks to the West's widening influence," USA Today, October 30, 2000.


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