Battle of the bulge: Adult male obesity rates per country
Last week, in our blog Data Visualization & BI Analyze Adult Male Obesity by Country, we examined the percentage of obese adult males per country (an adult male is classified as any male 15 years or older).
The results revealed the Cook Islands (56 percent), Nauru (56 percent), Samoa (45 percent) and the United States (31 percent) as the nations with the largest proportion of overweight males.
At the other end of the scale (countries with 10 percent or less of their adult male populations categorized as obese), Nordic and Asian nations, in conjunction with countries of low socio-economic standing, were found to harbor the fewest hefty adult males.
The results of this data analysis led us to question the potential lifestyle choices that might affect rates of obesity. Many men claim that drinking contributes to weight gain. So we thought we’d find out how much truth there is behind that statement.
- United Nations Statistics Division (percentage of obese adult males (15+) per country)
- World Health Organization (adult (15+) per capita alcohol consumption in litres per country per year)
Alcohol consumption per capita per country per year
The map below displays alcohol consumption (average litres of pure alcohol consumed per person per year) per country. All the same nations included in our obesity data set are also incorporated in this alcohol consumption data set.
Out of the 65 countries included in this example, Estonia (16 litres), Czech Republic (15 litres), Ireland (13 litres), Hungary (13 litres), Croatia (13 litres) and Lithuania (13 litres) have the highest alcohol consumption per capita per year.
Keeping in mind that both our obesity and alcohol data sets have been rounded to exclude decimal places, countries with the lowest alcohol consumption rates include Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia (all zero litres), with religious beliefs largely dictating this outcome.
Alcohol consumption over time
Interestingly, alcohol consumption worldwide is becoming normalized.
Heavy drinking is on the slide, with the world average slowly rising, suggesting the development of a more responsible and moderate global attitude towards drinking.
But let’s return to the core question. Do rates of alcohol consumption affect rates of obesity? Let’s find out.
Alcohol consumption vs Percentage of obese adult males (map)
By overlaying our obesity and alcohol data sets, we’re able to identify correlations between the two metrics. However, it’s difficult to detect a definitive connection.
Whilst many eastern European countries have both high rates of male obesity and alcohol consumption, the same association is not replicated for other nations. In fact, the relationship appears to be entirely inverse in some countries. Saudi Arabia, for example, consumes zero litres of alcohol per capita per year, whilst 26 percent of its adult male population is obese.
While a direct relationship seems hard to prove, we should double check, just to be sure.
Alcohol consumption vs Percentage of obese adult males (combination chart)
Using a combination chart to compare the two metrics yields a similar result. The same patterns are evident, with good correlations in many eastern European countries and other parts of Europe, such as Ireland.
However, even at a glance, the disparity between the two metrics for countries such as the Cook Islands, Nauru and Samoa is obvious. These three nations possess the highest rates of adult male obesity, but consume extremely modest amounts of alcohol per capita.
But let’s drill down just one more layer.
Heavy male drinkers vs Percentage of Obese adult males
Comparing heavy male drinkers with the percentage of obese adult males per country offers new insight. The relationship between these two metrics is suddenly very strong in the Cook Islands, Nauru and Samoa. Perhaps the female contingent in the previous alcohol consumption data set was masking a clear association between booze and the bulge?
Or maybe not. While the parallels remain reasonably strong for several Nordic and eastern European countries, overall, a direct relationship remains hard to prove. Whatever the case, it appears that although drinking may have an affect on weight gain, other cultural, environmental and lifestyle factors play a significant role.