Funhouse mirror on the wall

via Razib, I just stumbled on this global obesity chart. No prizes for guessing that the fattest people on earth are Americans, at 30% obese, and it’s reasonable that Britain, at 23% shoud be in third place. But — except that it’s next to Texas — there seems no reason for Mexicans to be fatter than the Brits, as they are.

Although I remember Sweden as a country with no fat people at all, and so they figure largely in my sight when I go there now, it is in fact 21 on the list, with 9.7%, less than half the British rate. On the other hand, a third of Swedish cats are overweight, according to today’s paper.

The two thinnest rich countries are Japan and South Korea, both with less than 4% obesity. Oliver Sacks, I know, cured his corpulence by eating nothing but sushi for lunch for years, if not decades.

NationMaster – Obesity (most recent) by country.

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6 Responses to Funhouse mirror on the wall

  1. JamesP says:

    The Japanese and Koreans are, in my experience, unheathily obsessed with their weight, particularly women, to the point where a number of the college girls I knew exhibited borderline anorexia, and a few genuine anorexia, bulimia, etc.

  2. chris y says:

    Ha! Tan lejos de dios, tan cerca de los Estadod Unidos, indeed. Actually, the presence of e.g. Greece and Slovakia high on the list makes me wonder whether this isn’t about places where there is a recent memory of not being quite sure that dinner will be on the table moving into a more prosperous condition.

  3. Out of curiosity, I plotted obesity rates versus walking rates for 15 EU countries (the only ones for which I could find walking stats). Interestingly, the UK, Luxembourg and Greece form a group of outliers with a linear regression of their own. The other 12 form their own cluster and also show a clear negative correlation.

  4. acb says:

    Interesting. It’s worth clicking through to that graph, though I wish there were labels on the country. The odd hting is that I can’t imagine anything else that the UK, Luxembourg and Greece have in common with each other and not the rest of the EU. WE have actually got at least one intermittent reader who lives in Luxembourg, so if Jorun wants to comment, feel free.

  5. Jorun says:

    The Lux intermittent reader at your service…

    If I read the graph correctly, the UK has the most obese people and only the Portuguese walk less. Greece comes number two on the obesity scale and they walk like the average EU-15. The Luxemburgers weigh in as number three and claim to walk a lot more than the others.

    The EEA report where the statistics were published says: “Statistics for non-motorised transport modes and activities are not routinely collected in Europe, and have not been published by Eurostat since 2000 due to difficulty in obtaining reliable and consistent information (see Figures 11.1 and 11.2). It is therefore difficult to analyse or monitor trends in cycling and walking activity within the EEA member countries. Where data is collated at a national level, it is often in a variety of formats, incomparable with data from other countries.”

    This incompatibility might be one explanation to the strange Luxemburgish position on the chart. Another could be the strong weekend-rambling tradition in Luxemburg. There are lots of 10-15 km footpaths and the maps are published in ringbinders. I have friends who have taken it upon themselves to walk all the 171 paths in one of the binders. In a very small country (population 470 000), people like that can make a big difference in the statistics.

    The obesity itself – well, one explanation I heard is French food served in German portions. Another might be that the traditional potatoes, pork, bread and beer diet is more suitable for hard-working farmers than for the more relaxed landlords of today.

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