New Zealand the world's third-most obese nation

  • 12/10/2017

Any doubts about New Zealand's obesity epidemic have been dispelled by a new international study that shows we are the third fattest nation in the world.

An OECD obesity update, released on Thursday, shows that 30.7 percent of adults in this country are classified as obese - up from 26.5 percent in 2007.

The USA is ranked first with a 38.2 percent adult obesity rate and Mexico is second at 32.4 percent.

The report says while the rate of obesity is slowing around the world, the number of countries it is spreading to is on the rise.

To combat the problem, the study recommended better communication policies in all OECD countries, improving nutrient information on food packaging, harsher regulations on advertising unhealthy food and drink to children, and using social media to show off the problems of obesity.

"Broader regulatory and fiscal policies [from central government] are needed to tackle obesity effectively," the report said.

Hungary, with an obesity rate of 30 percent, Australia (27.9 percent) and the United Kingdom (26.9 percent) round out the top six of the fattest countries.

Countries with the lowest rates of obesity were Japan (3.7 percent), Korea (5.3 percent) and Italy (9.8 percent).

Nearly one in six children are obese across the OECD, the report concluded, and in the majority of countries, women are more likely to be obese than men.

On Twitter, former prime minister Helen Clark described New Zealand's position on the obesity league table as "shocking" and said the new government needed to address the issue.