Pakistan 9th most obese country: Study

Published: May 29, 2014
USA, China and India take 1st, 2nd and 3rd place respectively. PHOTO: REUTERS

USA, China and India take 1st, 2nd and 3rd place respectively. PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS: Pakistan ranked 9th out of 188 countries in terms of obesity, according to the Global Burden of Disease Study published in The Lancet medical journal Thursday that said no country has turned the tide of obesity since 1980.

A staggering 671 million people now fall within the obese category, said the study – 78 million of them in the United States, which accounts for five percent of the world’s population, but more than a tenth of its grossly overweight people.

China and India, with much larger populations, trailed 2nd and 3rd in the top 10 obese countries with 46 million and 30 million people respectively, followed by Russia, Brazil, Mexico, Egypt, Germany, Pakistan and Indonesia.

Nearly a third of adults and a quarter of children today are overweight, the report further stated.

Traditionally associated with an affluent lifestyle, the problem is expanding worldwide, with more than 62 percent of overweight people now in developing nations, said the report.

There are some 2.1 billion overweight or obese people in the world today – up from 857 million 33 years earlier.

Among the most striking statistics: more than half the population of Tonga is now classified as obese – a dangerous level of overweight – as are more than 50 percent of women in Kuwait, Libya, Qatar and Samoa.

The United States also stands out with nearly 75 percent of men and 60 percent of women overweight or obese, according to the report.

“Obesity is an issue affecting people of all ages and incomes, everywhere,” said Christopher Murray, director of the University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, who helped collate the data for the period 1980 to 2013.

“In the last three decades, not one country has achieved success in reducing obesity rates, and we expect obesity to rise steadily as incomes rise in low- and middle-income countries in particular, unless urgent steps are taken to address this public health crisis.”

One is considered overweight with a weight-to-height (BMI) ratio of 25 or over, and obese from 30 upward.

Overweight people are more prone to cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, osteoarthritis and kidney disease, and the soaring numbers are placing a heavy burden on health care systems, said the study.

Excess body weight is estimated to have caused 3.4 million deaths in 2010, and previous research has warned that an unabated rise in obesity could start eating away at life expectancy.

The study, based on data from 188 countries, said the prevalence of obese and overweight adults grew by 28 percent worldwide, and by nearly 50 percent for children.

For men, the increase was from 29 to 37 percent, and for women from 30 to 38 percent of the population.

The study authors expressed concern that nearly a quarter of kids in developed countries and 13 percent in developing ones were overweight or obese – up from 16 percent and eight percent in 1980.

Thirteen percent of American children are obese, almost 30 percent if you include overweight – up from 19 percent in 1980.

“Particularly high rates of child and adolescent obesity were seen in Middle Eastern and North African countries, notably among girls,” the study authors noted.

Other regional differences included a slower rate of increase in developed countries, but fast expanding waistlines in the Middle East, North Africa, Central America and Pacific and Caribbean Islands – regions where many countries’ overweight rates exceed 44 percent.

Fast gains were measured in Britain and Australia.

Women are heavier in developing countries and men in developed ones, said the study.

The World Health Organisation aims to halt the rise in obesity by 2025, a target the study authors said appeared “very ambitious and unlikely to be attained without concerted action and further research”.

One solution, said Klim McPherson from Oxford University, was to return to the BMI levels of 1980 – which would mean an eight percent drop in consumption across the UK alone, at a cost to the food industry of some 8.7 billion pounds per year.

“The solution has to be mainly political,” he wrote in a comment on the study.

“Where is the international will to act decisively in a way that might restrict economic growth in a competitive world, for the public’s health? Nowhere yet.”

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Reader Comments (37)

  • goldconsumer
    May 29, 2014 - 12:46PM

    IK will blame Punjab for this..


  • Rudra
    May 29, 2014 - 12:50PM

    When you are top three populated country in world, more obese people will exist. But if you go by percentage of obese population vis via entire population of the country and compare that to other countries china and india may fall drastically. USA may still occupy the same position because of their eating habits.


  • gulmina
    May 29, 2014 - 1:15PM

    And here i thought we were Mal nourished


  • kami
    May 29, 2014 - 1:17PM

    goldconsumer, in this instance, IK would be right.


  • ABKhan
    May 29, 2014 - 1:17PM

    This study is ranking the countries according to the number of obese people out of total obese people in the world. If it was by the percentage of population the results would have been different. I am sure in that case China, India, Pakistan and Indonesia would not be on the top, they are only here due to large population. The article also indicates about over weight or obese as one category, whereas both of them are different categories. Most people are over weight but not obese.


  • Liberal
    May 29, 2014 - 1:22PM

    And you just blamed IK for it based on your fancy imagination. No shortage of trigger-happy fools in this country and you just proved it.


  • Ali
    May 29, 2014 - 1:41PM

    Pakistanis rank pretty good on the obesity scale. According to a list of the world’s “fattest countries” published on Forbes, Pakistan is ranked 165 (out of 194 countries) in terms of its overweight population, with 22.2% of individuals over the age of 15 crossing the threshold of obesity.


  • Peshawar
    May 29, 2014 - 1:46PM

    We are top 10 in something at least


  • Ahmed
    May 29, 2014 - 1:56PM

    Agreed, there is no relevance or perspective in ranking…just a number comparison @Rudra:


  • Fahad Zia
    May 29, 2014 - 2:06PM

    Just because our PM is obese and healthier than other PMs does not mean we should rank in top 10..


  • hundredand
    May 29, 2014 - 2:07PM

    USA falls into second if per capita is taken into account. Mexico is 1st.


  • Parvez
    May 29, 2014 - 2:35PM

    ….counting a few thousand odd MNA’s, MPA’s and Senators and then multiplying this by the magic numbers system staticians use………does not count.


  • Nouman
    May 29, 2014 - 2:46PM

    These types of Stats should b in % as per Population.. Saudis not in Top 10, how come? If you change this list by %, Saudis should b in Top 5


  • writer
    May 29, 2014 - 3:10PM

    Looking at the current PM of Pakistan in India, he is awfully fat. Also whenever you go to functions most aunties are frightfully obese, too much tv watching on the couch.


  • May 29, 2014 - 3:24PM

    No Ik will not blame for Punjab for that but for Punjabis, but punjabs are getting obsessed with the popularity and rise of IK even in Punjab as well.


  • May 29, 2014 - 3:25PM

    Why can’t Pakistani Punjabis send extra food to poor country like Somalia and Kenya to our muslim brother countries who are suffering with mal-nutrician instead over eating.


  • Jibran
    May 29, 2014 - 3:36PM

    In Pakistan, being fat is considered a sign of good health. If you are skinny, you are regarded as ill. We are addicted to sugar, sweets, buttery and oily foods. We consider desi ghee best for health. There is also no concept of exercising. This is the major difference between our perception towards health compared with the US. In the US, people can be obese, but they understand it as a problem.


  • Athar
    May 29, 2014 - 4:56PM

    this is stupid, where is Australia ?


  • Islamabad
    May 29, 2014 - 5:32PM

    If Pakistan is ninth and USA, China and India are first, second and third, then why is Pakistan being highlighted here! Media always looking to put down a Muslim country. Pathetic.


  • goldconsumer
    May 29, 2014 - 5:39PM

    No Mr. Liberal. When it comes to Punjab, the opinion of other provinces, including our very own Ex East Pakistan would be much to have your level of general knowledge raised to the point that you understand the point behind this sarcasm. Take a break and do some “google”


  • John B
    May 29, 2014 - 6:17PM

    The article theme and study are alright although I have some reservation as to how the data was presented.

    In any case I am perturbed by the following notion that is propagated across in many forums.

    ““The solution has to be mainly political,”
    “Where is the international will to act decisively in a way that might restrict economic growth …… for the public’s health?”

    This is a dangerous idea being disseminated in many fronts blaming everything on economic growth. The over population was blamed on lack of economic growth once then it was realized to lack of public education and contraceptive access.

    Public education and awareness is the key to combat obesity. Not restricting economic growth for public health.

    What good is it to any nation where a healthy populace living squalor of poverty?


  • unbelievable
    May 29, 2014 - 7:43PM

    Last year ET published an article indicating that N Korea and Pakistan were two countries where malnutrition was so chronic that population was actually getting smaller/shorter. Not sure how to reconcile both articles?


  • Waseem
    May 29, 2014 - 8:15PM

    I blame cricket , Cricket makes the whole nation a lazy nation , we have to go for fast sports in PakistanRecommend

  • Farooq
    May 29, 2014 - 9:15PM

    Pakistan is on the list thanks to our 90 million plus Punjabis


  • Raj Kafir
    May 29, 2014 - 9:25PM

    ET, I thought Pakistanis are Arab. Now from the accompanied picture I am convinced Pakistanis are not Arabs, they are liberal and blond.


  • Adpran
    May 29, 2014 - 10:49PM

    If Pakistan being highlighted in ET, it’s because ET is Pakistani online newspaper.


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  • ali
    May 30, 2014 - 12:20AM

    Countries have been ranked according to the proportion of over weighed people of the total population. The size of population does not matter.


  • Salman ( Canada )
    May 30, 2014 - 4:56AM

    Pakistan is 9th in terms of absolute figures, NOT as a proportion of the population. In the U.S 75 percent of men and 60 percent of women are obese; that is not the case in Pakistan. Ant this why China and India are in the top two; because of the size of their populations. It’s the U.S which is number one both in absolute terms and as a percentage of their population. They need to fix the problem, more than any other country.


  • Moiz Omar
    May 30, 2014 - 11:43AM

    It might be because of all the fatty and oily food we Pakistanis consume. :P.


  • Dhanish
    May 30, 2014 - 5:07PM

    @ali but that’s a wrong way to calculate. In that case most of “good and Bad issues” survey will have india china USA or Pakistan in top list because of huge number/proportion of people they have compared to other sparsely populated country. Even when these countries will have maximum of its people under these symptoms of the survey, yet they will be overshadowed by china india USA.
    For eg. China and india both figure in large number of billionaire list as well as maximum number of poor people due to being largest populated country in the world. So is it a rich country or poor? Same survey shows obese people and so can show maximum number of malnourished people. This is not right method of survey to judge a country. Ratio of people verses it’s population is the right method to place a country and find remedies to solve it.


  • May 30, 2014 - 10:20PM

    Both things are two sides of same coin !


  • May 30, 2014 - 10:46PM
  • Maula Jatt
    May 31, 2014 - 6:17AM

    Most of Pakistan’s population is thin, I would say 90% atleast. Gulab Jamun Altaf Hussein upset our national average.

    @Jahangir Chauhan, Farooq: You Indian Hindus hiding as Muslims need to stop promoting racism and ethnic divisions among Pakistans. Most Pakistanis are thin, regardless of ethnicity, although Pashtoons and Punjabis tend to be more muscular due to diet and lifestyle.


  • Salman ( Canada )
    May 31, 2014 - 7:58AM

    The report is misleading insofar as it is based on absolute numbers; not ranking countries by percentage. In the U.S two-thirds are obese; two-thirds of 330 million is 220 million; now if China has let’s say 210 million people who are obese, that makes them second in numbers, but it only works out to 13% of 1.6 billion people. As compared to 66.6% for the U.S.


    May 31, 2014 - 1:14PM

    and none of the designers and Clothing labels in Pakistan cater to this population!


  • obesity
    May 31, 2014 - 3:35PM

    Pakistan : always ahead :)


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