02.16.10

The 24 Laziest Countries

With the word’s best athletes competing in Vancouver, The Daily Beast crunches the numbers to determine the most slothful nations on the planet. Welcome to the Couch Potato Olympics.

While a few hundred athletes skate, ski and prance over the ice and slush of Vancouver each Olympic day, a few hundred million people sit on their duffs, with beer and whatever the local version of Cheetos is and take it all in on television or online.

Which gave us an idea. Rather than give all the glory to the countries with the fittest and fastest, why not an Olympic style competition to determine the laziest country in the world?

Click Image to View Our Gallery of the Laziest Countries

For the Couch Potato Olympics, we stuck with 24 countries in the developed world, as determined by Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development-member countries that had extensive data available. The large majority of this list is Western—a byproduct of only ranking countries with accurate, reliable, and consistent data. (There was no Russian judge in this competition.)

We evaluated four criteria, each weighed evenly:

Calories Per Day: from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations from the 2009 Statistical Yearbook; 2003-2005 data.

Television Viewing: combined data from the OECD Society at a Glance 2009 and OECD Communications Outlook 2009, tracking hours of television watched per day and the percent of people who prefer to watch television with their free time.

Aversion to Playing Sports: from the OECD Society at a Glance 2009, tracking the percent of people who prefer to play sports with their free time.

Internet Usage: average hours per capita for December 2009, provided by ComScore.

Most countries had good data for all four of these criteria—we didn’t rank any country that didn’t provide scores in at least three (for those countries, the remaining three categories were evenly weighted). For ties, the country that consumed more calories won (or lost, if you’re looking at their waistline). Read on for the winners of the Couch Potato Olympics. For once, the real winners are the losers. And it starts with a country that may or may not surprise you.

Clark Merrefield oversaw this ranking, with assistance from Tali Yahalom.