Uncovering the world’s top 10 unhealthiest countries

Join us as we rank the world's unhealthiest countries, analyzing factors like alcohol, tobacco use, and obesity rates. Discover the unique challenges and health trends shaping these nations.

In a bid to identify the unhealthiest countries globally, recent studies have broadened their scope beyond mere obesity rates. The World Health Organization (WHO) alerts us to a worrying trend: since 1975, worldwide obesity has nearly tripled. This alarming increase reflects a global health crisis where excessive body weight is becoming increasingly prevalent. The United States exemplifies this trend, with more than one-third of its population struggling with obesity.

Yet, understanding the full spectrum of health goes beyond obesity. Clinic Compare (UK) recently undertook a comprehensive study of 179 countries, focusing on three key health determinants: alcohol consumption, tobacco use, and the prevalence of obesity. These factors are standalone concerns and represent a trio of health risks with deep impacts.

The results of this study paint a diverse picture of health worldwide. Eastern European countries are predominantly noted for their high rates of drinking and smoking. Meanwhile, the United States, Canada, and regions in Oceania have been labeled some of the “fattest countries in the world,” owing largely to their significant obesity rates. This

Top 10 ranking of the world’s unhealthiest countries

10a. The United States of America

The United States, struggling with severe obesity issues, shares the 10th spot with Lithuania. The US is notorious for having one of the highest obesity rates globally.

More than half of its population battles obesity and its related health problems, making obesity a leading cause of preventable deaths. The American diet, rich in processed foods and high-fructose corn syrup, is a major factor visibly impacting people’s health and life expectancy.

10b. Lithuania

In a tie for the 10th position, Lithuania faces growing obesity challenges, especially among its youth. Contributing factors include unhealthy diets and a lack of physical activity.

Notably, Lithuanians consume an average of 18.2 liters of alcohol per person annually, the highest in this top 10 ranking. This excessive alcohol intake, coupled with below-average life expectancy rates in the European Union, places Lithuania among the unhealthiest nations.

9. Luxembourg

Luxembourg’s residents are at a heightened risk of death due to unhealthy behaviors like tobacco use and alcohol consumption. Nearly a quarter of its population is obese, exacerbated by poor nutrition habits. These lifestyle choices position Luxembourg at number nine among the world’s unhealthiest countries.

8. Poland

Poland, another Eastern European country on this list, is notable for its high levels of smoking and alcohol consumption. The average Polish resident consumes 12.3 liters of pure alcohol and smokes 1,369 cigarettes or e-cigarettes yearly. Alarmingly, obesity among Polish children has surged by 130% since 1990, signifying a growing health crisis.

7. Croatia

Croatia’s ranking as one of the world’s unhealthiest countries is primarily due to alcohol and tobacco use, leading to premature and preventable deaths. Croatians drink an average of 13.6 liters of alcohol per person each year. Additionally, they rank as the 8th most obese country, with 56% of the population being overweight or obese, signaling significant health challenges ahead.

6. Hungary

Despite its captivating architecture, Hungary faces significant health challenges, securing the 6th position in this ranking. The country struggles with a high obesity rate, compounded by substantial alcohol and tobacco consumption. On average, each Hungarian smokes a staggering 1,774 cigarettes annually, highlighting a serious public health concern.

5. Slovakia

The Slovak Republic, with 27% of its population classified as obese, occupies the 5th spot on this list. Slovakians are also among the top consumers of alcohol, ranking 9th globally. This combination of obesity, smoking, and high alcohol consumption is notably shortening the life expectancy of its citizens, painting a concerning health picture.

4. Belarus

In Belarus, alcohol and tobacco use are the primary culprits of preventable deaths, placing this Eastern European country in 4th place for unhealthy lifestyles. The country also contends with serious public health threats from Tuberculosis (TB) and HIV/AIDS, adding layers to its health challenges.

3. Slovenia

More than 20% of Slovenian adults and adolescents grapple with overweight or obesity issues. The country’s smoking and drinking rates are alarmingly above the EU average. Slovenians, on average, consume 2,637 cigarettes each year, making them the 6th largest tobacco consumers. This combination of factors contributes to Slovenia’s ranking as the 3rd unhealthiest country in the world.

2. Russia

The Russian Federation, spanning Eurasia, is the world’s largest country by area and ranks 9th most populous. In terms of health, Russia holds the 2nd position for the world’s unhealthiest countries. The Russian people, on average, consume 13.7 liters of alcohol and smoke 2,690 cigarettes per person annually. Alarmingly, 30% of all deaths in Russia are related to alcohol, underscoring a severe public health crisis.

1. The Czech Republic

Topping the list, the Czech Republic is the unhealthiest country globally, particularly noted for its high alcohol consumption. On average, each Czech consumes 13.7 liters of alcohol annually, equating to about 550 shots.

Situated in Central Europe, the Czech Republic boasts some of Europe’s finest beers. Post-communism, drinking beer became a habit and a symbol of freedom. Beer halls, central to social life, are places of camaraderie and conversation, reflecting a deep cultural attachment to beer.

What are the risks of obesity?

Obesity, defined by the Body Mass Index (BMI), poses significant health risks. An ideal adult’s BMI is below 25. A BMI over 25 indicates overweight, while over 30 is considered obese. The health implications of obesity are far-reaching, including:

  • Type II Diabetes
  • high blood pressure
  • sleep apnea
  • various forms of cancer

Additionally, the social stigma attached to obesity significantly affects various life aspects, including one’s sex life, further highlighting the importance of addressing this global health challenge.

Read also: Food security under the global standard: the 10 most malnourished countries

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