10 Unhealthiest Countries in the World

Clinic Compare, a company based in the UK that helps connects patients to health clinics, used data from the World Health Organization (WHO), the CIA World Factbook and the World Lung Association to create its list of unhealthiest countries in the world.

Obesity is commonly cited as one of the most important factors used to determine the unhealthiest countries in the world; it’s part of the reason more people are opting for weight loss surgery. In addition to obesity, alcohol and tobacco consumption are two of the most important factors in measuring a country’s healthiness.
All three of those factors come with a slew of health risks, and a closer look at those risks reveals exactly why they’re especially useful metrics in assessing a country’s overall health.
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Health Risks Associated With Obesity

Whether or not you’re obese is based on your Body Mass Index (BMI), which is a ratio of height over weight. A healthy adult should aim to have a BMI under 25. Between 25 and 30 is considered overweight, while a BMI over 30 is considered obese.

Obese adults can expect to have a higher risk of:

  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Endometrial, breast, colon, kidney, gallbladder and liver cancer
  • Mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety

Health Risks Associated With Smoking

Along with causing 9 out of 10 cases of lung cancer – and increasing the risk of it by 25 times in both men and women – smoking drastically increases the risk of life-threatening diseases, including:

  • Coronary heart disease
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Stroke
  • Bladder, blood, cervix, colon, liver and stomach cancer
  • Respiratory disease
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
  • Poor bone health
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

Health Risks Associated With Alcohol

While a glass of wine every now and then may have some health benefits, heavy drinking – even for one day – causes damage to your body. Responsible for 1 in 10 deaths in drinking-age adults in the U.S., heavy drinking poses risks to all parts of the body, both in the short- and long-term, including:

  • Neuropsychiatric impairment
  • Arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat), stroke and high blood pressure
  • Steatosis (fatty liver), fibrosis and cirrhosis
  • Pancreatitis
  • Mouth, esophagus, throat, liver and breast cancer
  • Increased likelihood of contracting pneumonia and tuberculosis
  • Miscarriage, stillbirth or fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs)

The Top 10 Unhealthiest Countries, Ranked

Of the top 10 unhealthiest countries in the world, all are located in Eastern Europe with the exception of the U.S. and Luxembourg, largely due to their devastatingly high amount of alcohol and tobacco consumption, along with high rates of obesity.

The Oceania region dominates the top of the obesity category, followed by countries in the Middle East and South America. The prevalence of obesity in the Oceania region is heavily attributed to the fact that a lot of their food is imported and therefore, heavily processed.

10. United States of America (Tied)

Tying with Lithuania for 10th place, the U.S. gained its rank primarily because of its obesity problem. With more than one-third of its population being obese, health issues related to obesity will likely continue for the foreseeable future.

10. Lithuania (Tied)

Tied with the U.S. for the 10th spot, Lithuania gained its place on the list due to high amounts of alcohol consumption; it has the highest rate of any country in the world. The average Lithuanian consumes 18.2 liters of pure alcohol a year.

9. Luxembourg

There’s no sole factor contributing to this Eastern European Country’s unhealthiness. The high consumption rate of both alcohol and tobacco are only rivaled by the country’s 23 percent obesity rate, meaning increased risk of preventable death is around every corner.

8. Poland

Both tobacco and alcohol contribute heavily to the country’s high ranking on the list. In Poland, each resident smokes an average of 1,369 cigarettes per year and consumes 12.3 liters of pure alcohol.

7. Croatia

Although smoking is less common in Croatia than many of the other top-10 unhealthy nations, the average Croatian consumes about 13.6 liters of pure alcohol per person, per year. They also rank very high for obesity.

6. Hungary

The popularity of smoking in Hungary is what puts it high on the list of unhealthiest countries in the world; each Hungarian smokes an average of 1,774 cigarettes a year.

5. Slovakia

Although they’re tied for ninth in the world for alcohol consumption, Slovakians aren’t just heavy drinkers; more than one-fourth of their population is reported as overweight or obese.

4. Belarus

This Eastern European country gained its place on the list due to its high consumption of both alcohol and tobacco. On average, Belarusians consume 16.4 liters of alcohol a year.

3. Slovenia

Slovenians consume, on average, 2,637 cigarettes a year. Surprisingly, that makes them only the 6th highest consumers of tobacco in the world. The average person also consumes 11.3 liters of alcohol every year.

2. Russia

Russians drink an average of 13.7 liters of pure alcohol a year. And, although they don’t top the list in terms of consumption, 30% of all deaths in Russia in 2012 were related to alcohol. Russians also smoke 2,690 cigarettes a year, on average.

1. The Czech Republic

Gaining first place for the unhealthiest country in the world, the Czech Republic’s average citizen drinks 13.7 liters of alcohol a year. Not only that, they rank 11th in tobacco use, and close to 30 percent of the population is obese.

Other Factors That Negatively Impact Health

Although obesity and tobacco and alcohol consumption are the three most significant factors used to determine a country’s unhealthiness, there are other everyday lifestyle decisions and behaviors that affect our overall health, including the following:

  • Physical activity
  • Sugar intake
  • Stress levels and stress management
  • Sleep patterns and quality
  • Time outdoors and sun exposure
  • Work environment

Oftentimes, these behaviors are overlooked, but the long-term effects of these unhealthy lifestyle choices still contribute to chronic health problems, life-threatening diseases and shorter lifespans.

If you’ve recently undergone bariatric surgery and are looking for ways to maintain not only a healthy weight, but a healthy overall lifestyle, we’ve put together a guide on what you should be eating and what sort of exercise you should be doing post-op.