How fat are you compared to people around the world?

Over a recent (healthy) lunch, my friend Caitlin, a graduate of DMU’s master of public health program, and I had a lively discussion of possible topics for this blog and for DMU Magazine. Ideas ranged from the positive impact of even minor public health improvements to the effects of adverse childhood experiences, both of which Caitlin is passionate about.


Given our conversation, it was no surprise the global impact of rising rates of obesity came up. That led Caitlin to share with me a link to the BBC News’ “global fat scale.” This calculator is based on research data on the average body mass index (BMI), an estimate of how overweight or obese a person is, for the population of each of 177 nations around the world.

The global fat scale allows you to enter your age, gender, height (either feet or meters) and weight (either pounds or kilograms) to calculate your BMI and see how you compare with people around the world. The site also calculates how many metric tons lighter or heavier the world would be if everyone on the planet had the same BMI as yours.

The site is both fascinating and frightening. While it’s nice to know one is not the most obese person on the planet, it’s alarming to get the percentage of people who are heavier. Maybe there’s some comfort in learning the United States does not have the highest average BMI, but it’s disturbing to see obesity is indeed a worldwide problem, and that for many countries – those at the bottom of the list – lack of access to adequate food remains a persistent problem.

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