The Pacific Island of Nauru has the world's fattest people

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Niccolo and Donkey
Tiny nation is identified as world’s fattest

Toronto Star

Leslie Ciarula Taylor

February 4, 2011

A Pacific island is packed with the fattest people in the world, and while Western countries keep piling on pounds, there are pockets of healthiness breaking out, a comprehensive 28-year survey of 199 countries reveals.

Creeping westernization has turned the tiny nation of Nauru into an island pocket of fat, where the body mass index hangs between 34 and 35.

In Canada, the average BMI for women in 2008 was 26.7 and for men, 27.5 – a big increase of two points in 28 years but still below heavyweights such as the U.S., the U.K. and Chile.

The forecast for heart disease as a global problem was “dismal and comprises a population emergency that will cost tens of millions of preventable deaths” unless countries act, researchers Sonia Anand and Salim Yusuf of McMaster University in Hamilton, said in a commentary with the study.

Women in Belgium, France, Finland, Italy and Switzerland managed to stay the same size over the 1980 to 2008 span of the study.

Western countries, including Canada, South Korea and the U.S., had some of the lowest blood-pressure rates, thanks to medication rather than sodium reduction.

Ottawa disbanded its sodium-reduction task force, created in 2007 to develop a strategy to reduce Canadians’ high intakes, it was reported Friday.

Three global surveys, of cholesterol, obesity and blood pressure, were published online this week in The Lancet .

Though cholesterol has fallen in high-income regions of North America, Europe and Australasia, the numbers remain the highest in the world and far higher than in east and Southeast Asia.

More worrying, however, was evidence that cholesterol and blood pressure are rising in east and Southeast Asia, the study said.

Countries such as Japan, Seychelles and Singapore had cholesterol levels approaching western European numbers and higher than levels in Canada.

Cholesterol levels were highest in countries such as Iceland and Germany and lowest in Africa.
Reducing salt and trans fat in prepared foods could help combat blood pressure and cholesterol rates, the study said.

The study found that men had higher blood pressure than women in every region except West Africa, with the highest numbers in central and Eastern Europe and sub-Saharan Africa.

Worldwide, the obesity rate doubled in 28 years, the study said. Five per cent of men and eight per cent of women were obese in 1980; the rates were nearly 10 per cent for men and 14 per cent for women in 2008.
Niccolo and Donkey
Woman from Nauru

The world obesity map

Fastest growing: US
The US saw the biggest rise in BMI of all developed nations between 1980 and 2008, more than 1kg a decade. Increasingly sedentary occupations, less walking and cycling, more driving in cars and rising consumption of fast foods and sugary drinks are behind the rise which affects all high-income countries.

Slimming down: Italy
Italy is the only high-income country in Europe where BMI declined - for women, from 25.2 to 24.8. Even among men, Italy saw one of the smallest increases. The classic Mediterranean diet - pasta, vegetables and fruit - is one of the healthiest in the world.

Fattening up: UK
The UK has the sixth highest BMI in Europe for women and the ninth highest for men (both around 27). The rate of increase has been second only to the US for men. One in four men and one in three women is overweight and about 12 million are obese.

South America's biggest: Chile
Chile with an average BMI of 27.0 for men and 27.9 for women, was the heaviest country in southern Latin America. The scale of increase in obesity in southern Latin America is second only to the US among men and ranks fifth among women. Rates of obesity soared in Chile with the end of its dictatorship in 1990 and a surge in fast food restaurants and some critics are now calling for a junk food tax to be imposed.

World's thinnest: Bangladesh
Bangladesh is the world's thinnest nation, with an average BMI of 20.5 for women and 20.4 for men. Rice is the staple diet and millions go without enough to eat. More than half of children - more than 9 million - are underweight and have stunted growth.

Fattest on earth: Nauru
Nauru is the world's fattest country, with an average BMI of 34 to 35. Located in the south Pacific it is the smallest island nation, with a population of less than 10,000. Obesity has grown as a result of the importation of Western foods paid for with proceeds from phosphate mining. The most popular dish is fried chicken and cola.

I will go there and market diet grape drink to wash down that fried chicken.