We gave MAN v FAT stats hound Seamus Hilley the task of finding the most interesting obesity-related weight loss statistics out there. These are his findings…

Obesity is a killer. We all know that. But just how dangerous is it? More dangerous than sharks perhaps? Having carefully collated the fat stats I can reveal that obesity kills over twice as many people annually (30,000) as sharks (5), rollercoasters (6), vending machines (13), ants (30), jellyfish (40), tornadoes (60), volcanoes (845), hippos (2900), lightning (10,000) and falling out of bed (450) combined. Pretty poor showing for the sharks, I think you’ll agree. And how do so many people get killed by hippos? It’s not like they can sneak up on you or anything.

Fat hippos: deadly.

Fat hippos: deadly.

I was surprised that obesity doesn’t kill more people, but these statistics come from an impeccable source. Well…Buzzfeed. But surveys on obesity are notoriously unreliable because, and there’s no polite way of putting this, people lie. Obesity rates are thought to be much higher than reported because men have a tendency to lie about their height, thereby distorting the reported BMI measurement. Step forward Tom Cruise, 5ft 11 indeed! Men are by no means the worst offenders however, because women lie about weight, height and age.

Statistically, the most overweight nation in the worlds is American Samoa, where 70 percent of the population is classified as obese. This is usually blamed on American servicemen introducing fast food joints to the country, and rarely on the Samoans for eating the stuff. Americans are doing pretty well in the obesity stakes themselves as they carry a combined total of four billion excess pounds, but American service personnel can probably be excused blame for the world’s weight gain in the future. Not because they’ve given up on fast food, but because 27% of young Americans are too fat to enlist in the first place.

The trend towards obesity in the US seems to be unstoppable, and the nation is trying to cope with the symptoms rather than tackle the disease. Gyms invest in reinforced equipment and ranches buy “fat butt saddles”. You could just take the dog for a walk, but apparently 60% of pets are overweight too. I think these figures might be pretty suspect. Cats in particular are notorious liars, but the American Veterinary Association has reported that 34% of the dogs its members handle are overweight or obese. Cocker Spaniels, Rottweilers and Beagles are most likely to be too fat, while Shih Tzus are renowned for keeping a trim figure. Mind you, when you’re called Shih Tzu you’ve got enough on your plate without people calling you Fatty as well. And Rottweilers can afford to let themselves go because women don’t carry them around in handbags. Maybe in New Jersey they do, but that’s another story.

Tom Cruise: tall.

Tom Cruise: tall.

We can’t afford to sound too superior about America’s troubles because, according to a Europe-wide survey in The Lancet, only Malta and Iceland have more obese citizens than the UK. Our eating and drinking habits are really killing us. By contrast, only 10 % of the population of France is obese, but then again they’re notoriously slow to get a round in, so they’ve no cause to look so smug. The NHS spends about 5 billion pounds each year treating problems associated with obesity, money which could easily buy us a decent selection of Trident missiles and stop a lot of argy-bargy on Question Time.

But we’re not complacent about our failings because 29 million people each year start a diet. One in five of those people said they ended the diet “soon” afterwards. We’re not told exactly what is meant by “soon”. Could have lasted a month, could have lasted until I passed that KFC the next day. I mean, until “they” passed the KFC the next day, whoever they might be. I’m particularly at risk because I live in the London Borough of Lewisham, which is one of the top ten areas in the UK for obesity-related medical consultations. It’s also the number one area for people saying they live in Blackheath, so not really Lewisham at all, which I suffer from as well.

In the country as a whole, Scotland is by far the fattest nation, with Glasgow being the epicentre of the problem. In an entirely unrelated statistic, 55% of people in Scotland have a ready meal as their main evening meal at least three days a week and 17% of people never cook a main meal from scratch. They couldn’t even be bothered to throw a Mars Bar in the chip fryer. If I’ve managed to shed any light on the obesity crisis in this post I clearly have no future as a statistician but if you only learn one thing it should be this: keep an eye on that bloody hippopotamus. They’re not as cuddly as they look.