Obesity is a major public health problem in England and globally. In adults, overweight and obesity are associated with life-limiting conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and some cancers as well as osteoarthritis.
Successive governments have introduced several initiatives to tackle obesity in England.
Overweight and obesity in adults
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.
BMI, defined as weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in metres (kg/m2) was calculated to group people into the following categories:
|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|
Waist circumference is measured, and categorised into desirable, high and very high, by sex-specific thresholds:
|Description||Men's waist circumference (cm)||Women's waist circumference (cm)|
|Desirable||Less than 94||Less than 80|
|Very high||More than 102||More than 88|
Prevalence of overweight and obesity in adults
27% of men and 29% of women were obese. Around two thirds of adults were overweight or obese, this was more prevalent among men (68%) than women (60%).
Obesity increased with age from 13% of adults aged between 16 and 24, to 36% of those aged 65 to 74. It was lower among adults aged 75 and over (26%).