The growing worldwide obesity epidemic has been blamed on a number of factors, but a study argues that it may be inexorably linked with wealthy nations and their fast-food restaurants.
Researchers compared the number of fast-food restaurants per capita in 26 countries listed as advanced economies by the International Monetary Fund. They used one chain (Subway) as a proxy measure; at the end of 2010 the chain reportedly had the most restaurants worldwide.
Countries with the highest density of restaurants per capita were the U.S. and Canada: 7.52 and 7.43 per 100,000 people, respectively. In the U.S. the prevalence of obesity for men and women is about 32%, while in Canada it's about 23%.
Japan, however, has far fewer of the fast-food restaurants, 0.13 per 100,000 people, and a far lower obesity rate: 2.9% for men and 3.3% for women. Similarly, Norway has 0.19 restaurants per 100,000 people and an obesity rate of 6.4% for men and 5.9% for women.