It’s not where you think. ABC News’ Nightline traveled to the tiny island nation of Nauru, which was recently named the heaviest population on Earth. More than 95 percent of the population is overweight and close to half of the citizens have Type 2 diabetes. The World Health Organization report found that the 7 heaviest nations on earth are Pacific Islander.
The reasons for the staggering amount of obesity remain contentious. Nauru’s health chief claims that Pacific Islander people are simply prone to weight gain. International experts, however, fault the shift in diet that occurred in the 1980s when the nation enjoyed a period of brief prosperity, bolstered by rich phosphate mines. After the mining explosion, the nation began to import fatty foods from other nations and shifted away from their traditional diet of fish and root vegetables. The mines dried up but the bad eating habits remained.
For a concrete example, look no further than the “national drink” of Nauru. A mixture of iced coffee with lots of added sugar. Politicians from the island nation quickly point out that they are committed to fighting the epidemic with weekly walks around the island and national weight loss competitions. From the looks of it, they have a long ways to go.