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National Statistics
Publication, Part of

Statistics on Obesity, Physical Activity and Diet - England, 2008

Official statistics, National statistics
Publication Date:
Geographic Coverage:
Geographical Granularity:
Local Authorities, Regions, Clinical Commissioning Groups, Clinical Commissioning Area Teams, Clinical Commissioning Regions, Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships, Deprivation
Date Range:
01 Jan 2003 to 31 Dec 2007


This statistical report presents a range of information on obesity, physical activity and diet, drawn together from a variety of sources. This publication also summarises government plans and targets in this area, as well as providing sources of further information and links to relevant documents and key sources.

There are several notable additions to this, The Information Centre's second report on obesity, physical activity and diet. Waist circumference analysis has been included where possible to reflect the importance of using this measurement in conjunction with Body Mass Index (BMI) in order to identify those at increased risk of health problems associated with obesity.

More regional data is presented with a greater number of tables providing government office region and Strategic Health Authority breakdowns. Where possible information at a more local level has been reported on.



  • in 2006, 24 per cent of adults (aged 16 or over) in England were classified as obese. This represents an overall increase from 15 per cent in 1993
  • men and women were equally likely to be obese, however women were more likely than men to be morbidly obese (3 per cent compared to 1 per cent)
  • 37 per cent of adults had a raised waist circumference in 2006 compared to 23 per cent in 1993. Women were more likely than men to have a raised waist circumference (41 per cent and 32 per cent respectively)
  • using both BMI and waist circumference to assess risk of health problems, of men 20 per cent were estimated to be at increased risk, 13 per cent at high risk and 21 per cent at very high risk. Equivalent figures for women were 14 per cent at increased risk, 16 per cent at high risk and 23 per cent at very high risk
  • in 2006, 16 per cent of children aged 2 to 15 were classed as obese. This represents an overall increase from 11 per cent in 1995. Despite the overall increase since 1995, the proportion of girls aged 2 to 15 who were obese decreased between 2005 and 2006, from 18 per cent to 15 per cent. There was no significant decrease among boys aged 2 to 15 over that period
  • boys were more likely than girls to be obese (17 per cent compared to 15 per cent)
  • of children aged 8 to 15 who were classed as obese, two thirds (66 per cent) of girls and 60 per cent of boys thought that they were too heavy.

Physical Activity

  • overall, physical activity has increased among both men and women since 1997, with 40 per cent of men and 28 per cent of women meeting the recommended levels in 2006 (at least 30 minutes of at least moderate intensity activity at least 5 times a week)
  • there is a clear gradient across the income quintiles for both men and women, with those in the lowest income quintile more likely to be in the low participation group than those in the highest income quintile
  • adults with low physical activity levels were more than twice as likely to have a raised waist circumference than those with high levels of physical activity
  • three in ten adults had not participated in active sport in last 12 months in 2005/06
  • in 2006, boys were more likely than girls to meet the recommended levels of physical activity with 70 per cent of boys and 59 per cent of girls reporting taking part in 60 minutes or more of physical activity on all 7 days in the previous week
  • during 2006/07, 86 per cent of pupils took part in at least two hours of high quality PE and sport a week, a gradual increase since 2003/04 when the figure was 62 per cent.


  • in 2006, 28 per cent of men, 32 per cent of women consumed five or more portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Among children aged 5 to 15, the equivalent figures were 19 per cent for boys and 22 per cent for girls
  • the proportion of adults and children consuming five or more portions of fruit and vegetables a day remained steady between 2001 and 2004. There were increases among adults in 2005 and 2006. For children, there was an increase among both boys and girls in 2005 and further increase among girls in 2006.

Health Outcomes

  • for people aged 35 and over classified as having a raised waist circumference, men were twice as likely and women were four times more likely to have type 2 diabetes
  • over the last ten years there were 17,458 Finished Consultant Episodes (FCEs) with a primary diagnosis of obesity. Almost a quarter of these (4,068) occurred in 2006/07
  • in 2006, 1.06 million prescription items were dispensed for the treatment of obesity. Overall, the number of prescriptions in 2006 was more than eight times the number prescribed in 1999, when there were 127 thousand prescription items.


Last edited: 8 February 2022 12:32 pm