Americans tend to be obsessed about how they look, especially their weight. Now there is a tool to further feed that obsession for those who may have wondered how they might compare if they happened to live in another country. When you insert your personal data into this global body mass index calculator, it returns your own BMI along with the ranges of BMI for 177 other countries in the world,
It turns out that the US is sixth in average BMI, being beaten by Micronesia, Tonga, Croatia, Samoa, and Argentina. I was wondering what it might be about these small Pacific islands that might cause three of them (rank 176, 178, and 173 respectively out of 193 countries in terms of population) to rank in the top four.
I have not been to any of these countries and so have no first hand experience but my wife who has been to Argentina says that she would never have guessed that they ranked above the US because she saw hardly any overweight people there, unlike what she sees here. This should serve as a warning that using our personal impressions (which are always based on small and usually unrepresentative samples) to infer the characteristics of entire populations can lead to wildly erroneous conclusions.