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Bowels of the Earth

Which country has the largest (and smallest) average stool size.

September 28, 2011 |
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Supplementary Info

Sources Cited


Images thanks to


 Who’s number 1?—at,  number two? The country with the largest average bowl movements? Denmark, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa, Tonga—an island in the south pacific—the UK or the USofA? Remember the target minimum fecal output is 200 grams day—'bout a half a pound.

And the  winner of the bowels of the earth contest was Tonga at 531! The only other country to make the 200 target was, India, who gets the silver at 311 (with  individual measurements ranging up to 1505 grams—that’s that more than three pounds! That’s impressive).  And the bronze goes to Japan at 195—almost made the cutoff. Everybody else fell short, with the smallest stools in the world colored red white and blue.  U.S. vegetarians faired better, though,  as did vegetarian and vegan Brits.

There actually was  one population that did even worse than the standard American diet. The smallest average population bowel movement size ever recorded:  New Yorkers. That’s less than 3 ounces.

Instead of just living there, if only they would actually eat a big apple once and awhile...

On the other end of the spectrum, though: What are they eating in Tonga? Well this was recorded decades ago when they were  still eating their traditional plant-based diet of taro, greens, sweet potatoes, fruit, more greens, bananas, cabbage.

Now, tragically,  the most frequently consumed food item in the country is,  “imported chicken parts.”

 And this is what happened. From one of the healthiest nations in the world,  to one of the most obese.  Thanks in part to the westernization of their diets.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Dianne Moore.

To help out on the site please email

Dr. Michael Greger

Doctor's Note

Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. For information on stool size, check out Stool size matters! Also, there are 1,449 subjects covered in my other videos–please feel free to explore them!

For more context, check out my associated blog posts: Stool Size and Breast Cancer Risk, Kiwi Fruit for Irritable Bowel SyndromeBowel movements: the scoop on poopThe Best Way to Prevent the Common Cold?, and Best Treatment for Constipation

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. For information on stool size, check out Stool size matters! Also, there are 1,449 subjects covered in my other videos–please feel free to explore them!

  • Dustin Rudolph

    Thanks for my entertainment for the day Dr. Greger :) Who would’ve thought that talking about feces would be so enlightening.

    There’s the crap we put up with our politics in America and then there’s just plain old crap. For once I wish us Americans would be full of more crap to help reverse the current healthcare crisis going on in this country (politicians and citizens alike).

  • Mike Quinoa

    Love this video—I can’t stop chuckling. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I just love the graphics and charts on these videos, not to mention Dr. Greger’s droll delivery. Comprehension has taken place.

  • Benjamin Stone

    A tragedy for the Tongans. While the denizens of New York may suffer on average from shockingly small stools, it should be noted some of the finest vegan restaurants in the country are found in New York City!

  • Barbara Hesselgrave

    Holy Shit!

  • Berryman

    Great video! I have a question though. If some people have such small stools and some have such large stools and supposing we all eat about the same quantity of food per day- what happens to the excess weight of food in the people with small stools? Actually, having been in India I wonder if NYers eat more than people in India on a daily basis. Where does it all go?

    • supercarrot

      i think it stays longer in the colon (i bet being on-the-go all the time trains their bodies to hold on to the poops longer, so that wouldn’t help the situation), so it gets drier. (water weighs quite a bit) so once it comes out, a similar amount of food would produce a much lighter and smaller bunny poop than it would a comfortable log.

    • Guest

      I also think other videos (eg on fiber) suggest that more fiber leads to larger stools. So in your scenario, the two people may be eating the same amount of calories, but the plant eater would be eating a much higher volume of food, due to its fiber content. (Plant eaters are getting more fiber – and other nutrients – per calorie). Fiber causes both faster transit, and due to its voulme, greater stool volume. So someone eating a plain bagel with cream cheese, or white pancakes with syrup, and a coffee with cream and sugar is going to have a smaller denser stool than someone eating a big bowl of oatmeal with soy milk and flaxseeds, plus a big bowl of fruit and nuts even if the calories are the same. But its an unlikely scenario – people eating less fiber eat more calories in order to try to feel full and as their bodies are hungering for nutrients they’re missing. Smaller food volume due to missing fiber means higher calorie diets and overweight. People eating a lot of fiber get full quicker and eat fewer calories. (See Eat to Live by Dr Fuhrman).

  • Truelady50USA

    I’m wondering how great a part “stress” plays in stool creation. (since New Yorkers are definitely NOT laid back people on average) Yet there would be lots of other factors, like: water supply, air quality, lowered oxygen levels (due to limited # of trees + lots of exhaust)…not to mention all the restaurants (which would keep food additive consumption higher than a kite!)

    BTW I once lost 40 # doing nothing else but strict avoidance of (even probability) of food additives!

  • GW

    Where do-do you find your data?  Never mind.  I don’t really want to know.
    Westerners need to be aware of the types of food they’re donating to third-world countries.  Chicken parts!  And I can guess how the chickens were raised.

  • Gary Yuen

    Any idea of what grains Tongans used?

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    Please also check out my associated blog post, Stool Size and Breast Cancer Risk!

  • mirabelle

    what causes colon polyps?i eat a very healthy diet Eat To Live by dr. fuhrman :based on raw and steamed vegetables,salads,berries,apples,beans/legumes and then smaller amounts of grain/starchy veg.everday,i also eat plain unsalted brown rice cakes (topped with cucumber and tomato slices).is there any way rice cakes could lead to colon polyp formation ?

  • Jim Johnson

    I have taro growing in my yard and I enjoy eating taro greens. I am aware they contain calcium oxalate and I wonder how much taro greens in my diet is too much?

  • Fidel Castrati

    Big Apple residents should eat a big apple once in a while indeed! 8D

  • Psych MD

    Here is an interesting followup. A report came out this week stating that every 90 seconds a New Yorker dies of diabetes-related illness. The city is a nutritional disaster.

  • barbarabrussels

    Wow, chicken parts culprit again…