Obesity and Hunger Worldwide

Is there a connection between obesity and hunger? There is no clear pattern to the distribution of hunger and obesity across the globe. Some special cases:

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  1. Cook Islands: With an obesity rate of more than 53 per cent, the archipelago is the world leader – closely followed by other Pacific islands like Niue, Nauru and Tonga.
  2. USA: At 34 per cent, the United States has the highest proportion of obese people in the industrialised world.
  3. Haiti: Nowhere else do so many people suffer from undernourishment, although the percentage of people with a BMI above 30 is still nearly 12 per cent.
  4. Germany: At 21 per cent, Germany ranges in the mid-field of obesity statistics – whilst hunger is virtually non-existent at under five per cent.
  5. Iraq: Despite war, terror and destruction, the percentage of obese and undernourished people nearly holds the balance: a good 25 per cent as against just under 23 per cent.
  6. Japan: The world’s exception: fewer than five per cent suffer from undernourishment, and obesity is also virtually non-existent at just over 3 per cent.


Sources: Based on FAO: State of Food Insecurity in the World 2015 (data on undernourishment), WHO: Global Health Observatory: Prevalence of obesity (data on obesity)

The presentation of this map does not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever concerning the legal or constitutional status of any country, territory or sea area, or concerning the delimitation of frontiers.

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