Overweight and obesity are defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health. Obesity is associated with an increased risk of a number of common causes of disease and death including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers. For individuals classified as obese, the risk of poor health increases sharply with increasing body mass index (BMI).
Successive governments have introduced a number of initiatives to tackle obesity in England.
The prevalence of overweight and obesity is indicated by body mass index (BMI) as a measure of general obesity, and/or waist circumference as a measure of abdominal obesity.
Waist circumference is measured, and categorised into desirable, high and very high, by sex-specific thresholds:
|Men's waist circumference (cm)||Women's waist circumference (cm)||Description|
|Less than 94||Less than 80||Desirable|
|More than 102||More than 88||Very high|
BMI, defined as weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in metres (kg/m2) was calculated in order to group people into the following categories:
|BMI (kg/m2)||BMI status|
|Less than 18.5||Underweight|
|18.5 to less than 25||Normal|
|25 to less than 30||Overweight, not obese|
|30 or more||Obese, including morbidly obese|
|40 or more||Morbidly obese|
Overweight and obesity in adults
Prevalence of overweight and obesity in adults
In 2018, 63% of adults were classified as overweight or obese; 67% of men and 60% of women.
Obesity was more common in women than men; 26% of men and 29% of women were classified as obese. Being overweight but not obese was more common among men than women.