Fast food nation: Maccas and KFC have conquered NZ

New Zealand is one of the fattest countries on Earth, with a staggering 29.2 percent of Kiwis classed as being obese in 2015, using data from the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Looking at the statistics of people who are classed as overweight, Kiwis fare even worse, with 64 percent of us being in this category.

Obesity puts a huge strain on our public health system, and costs taxpayers billions each year.

It's often said fast food and obesity go hand-in-hand, so Newshub decided to put this to the test.

We counted up the number of the world's most popular fast food outlets in New Zealand, McDonald's and KFC, to find a per capita figure for the franchises. 

The numbers in both cases were quite shocking.

There is one McDonald's restaurant for every 27,000 Kiwis and one KFC restaurant for every 41,000 of us.

But how do those numbers stack up to other countries? Turns out New Zealand is a fast food champion.

The United States leads the way in McDonald's restaurants, with one franchise for every 14,200 Americans. 

Both Australia and New Zealand aren't too far behind though, with per capita figures of 25,000 and 27,000 respectively.

All three countries have some of the highest obesity rates in the world.

Japan is one of the least obese nations on Earth, but still has one McDonald's restaurant for every 42,700 people.

Looking at the KFC figures, and it seems both Aussies and Kiwis can't get enough of that famous fried chicken.

Australia leads the world with one KFC restaurant for every 38,000 people, while New Zealand is a close second at 41,000.

The United States drops down to one KFC franchise for every 77,000 people, but the Colonel's herbs and spices are more popular in China than McDonald's where there's one KFC restaurant for every 308,500 of its citizens compared to 590,000 for a McDonald's franchise.

McDonald's China is playing catch up with KFC however; there were more than 1000 new golden arches built in the world's most populated country in 2016, and just as many planned in 2017. That's almost three new McDonald's restaurants being opened in China every day.

A Chinese family play with Ronald McDonald at a McDonald's restaurant
Ronald McDonald is becoming a prominent figure in Chinese culture. (Getty)

China is also facing a growing obesity problem, especially amongst its children, OECD figures show.

Looking closely at the KFC figure in the US, and despite being a homegrown global giant, the fried chicken brand doesn't even make the top 10 fast food chains in America. 

Subway, McDonald's, Starbucks, Pizza Hut, Burger King, Dunkin' Donuts, Wendy's, Dairy Queen, Taco Bell and Domino's Pizza dominate the market in that order.

It's interesting to note that eight of those fast food chains also operate in New Zealand where they also do brisk business.

So is there a link between the large numbers of McDonald's and KFC restaurants in New Zealand and our high proportion of obese and overweight people?

It's certainly food for thought isn't it?