Thyroid hormones are essential for growth, neuronal development, reproduction and regulation of energy metabolism. Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism are common conditions with potentially devastating health consequences that affect all populations worldwide. Iodine nutrition is a key determinant of thyroid disease risk; however, other factors, such as ageing, smoking status, genetic susceptibility, ethnicity, endocrine disruptors and the advent of novel therapeutics, including immune checkpoint inhibitors, also influence thyroid disease epidemiology. In the developed world, the prevalence of undiagnosed thyroid disease is likely falling owing to widespread thyroid function testing and relatively low thresholds for treatment initiation. However, continued vigilance against iodine deficiency remains essential in developed countries, particularly in Europe. In this report, we review the global incidence and prevalence of hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, highlighting geographical differences and the effect of environmental factors, such as iodine supplementation, on these data. We also highlight the pressing need for detailed epidemiological surveys of thyroid dysfunction and iodine status in developing countries.