Obesity in England - statistics

Obesity in England – Statistics

Pawel Malczewski
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Summary

According to the latest results from the Health Survey for England (HSE), conducted by the Joint Health Surveys Unit of NatCen Social Research and the Research Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at UCL, in 2014, around one-quarter of adults in England were obese. Of this total, 2% of men and 4% of women were morbidly obese. A total of more than one-third of adults were considered overweight in England in 2014. (1)Health and social information centre. Health Survey for England, 2014 [NS]. Dec 2015. Available here. (2)Health and Social Care Information Centre. Statistics on Obesity, Physical Activity and Diet – England, 2016. Health and Social Care Information Centre, Leeds, 2016. Available here.

Explanation

Obesity Statistics in England

Preliminary note: Body Mass Index (BMI) is used in order to measure adults who are overweight and obese in England.
Obesity in England - Statistics
Notes: Results are age-adjusted, for people aged 16 and over with valid height and weight measurements.

Obesity evolution in England

Between 1993 and 2014, the obesity prevalence among adults in England increased considerably, from 14.9% to 25.6%. The trend was more or less continuous, except for the years of 2009, 2011 and 2012 when the obesity proportion decreased.

The overweight prevalence showed an irregular, although slightly lowering trend since 1993. In 2014, 36.2% of the population was considered overweight, which compares with 38.0% in 1993.

In recent years, however, overweight and obesity prevalence in England has remained more or less unchanged.

Different Gender Results

In England, the obesity and overweight prevalence in male and female populations registered distinct results and even, in some cases, different paths. The main results were:

  • In 2014 the prevalence of obesity was higher in the female population (26.8%) than in the male population (24.3%);
  • On the contrary, in the same year, the prevalence of the overweight population was higher in the male population (41.0%) compared with the prevalence in the female population (31.4%);
  • The female obesity prevalence increased from 16.4% in 1993 to 26.8% in 2014. This percentage decreased between 2011 and 2013, and increased again in 2014;
  • On the other hand, the proportion of male obesity was 24.3% in 2014, which compares with 13.2% in 1993 and 26.0% in 2013;
  • The overweight prevalence in the male population has shown a negative trend since 1993. The overweight prevalence for the female population registered an irregular path, remaining at relatively the same level.

Different Racial/Ethnic Results

The overweight and obesity prevalence shows varying results for the different racial/ethnic groups. The HSE produces statistics including White, Black, Asian, Mixed and Other racial/ethnic groups. These categories were used for reporting purposes, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations.

For the period 2012-2014, the major conclusions were:

  • The highest obesity prevalence belongs to Black adults with 34.8% and the lowest percentage to Asian, with 16.9%. White, Mixed and Other ethnic groups, respectively, had an obesity prevalence of 25.2%, 23.7% and 22.1%;
  • On the other hand, the proportion of overweight was higher in the Asian population, with 38.9%. The White population had a prevalence of 36.7%, Other 35.8%, Black 34.9% and Mixed 34.1%;
  • Approximately 4 in 10 (42.4%) Black women were obese, followed by Mixed (27.6%) and White women (25.1%);
  • The pattern among men is different compared with the women and the overall population. Among men, the Other ethnic group had the highest obesity prevalence, with 26.5%, closely followed by Black (25.6%) and White men (25.4%);
  • The male population had a lower obesity prevalence than women in the Black, Asian and Mixed ethnic groups, especially in the first case. The proportion of overweight men was also higher in all race/ethnic groups than women, mainly in the Other and Mixed groups.

Different Age Results

The obesity and overweight prevalence varies according to age. In England, the overweight prevalence constantly increased with age, while the obesity prevalence decreased in the older age groups.

For the male and female populations, the main results were:

  • The overweight prevalence was higher in the male population compared to the female population in all age groups, while the obesity prevalence was higher in the 35-64 and over 85 age groups;
  • The proportion of overweight and obese increased with age in the female population, although it decreased in the older age groups. This is particularly strong in the obese female population, which shifts from a prevalence of 31.7% in the 75-84 age group to 16.7% in the age group of more than 85 years old;
  • The proportion of overweight and obese also increased with age in the male population, registering the highest growth between the age groups of 16-24 years (30.8% prevalence) and 25-34 years (54.4% prevalence). Contrary to the proportion of the overweight male population, the obesity prevalence started to decrease after 65 years of age.

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References   [ + ]

1. Health and social information centre. Health Survey for England, 2014 [NS]. Dec 2015. Available here.
2. Health and Social Care Information Centre. Statistics on Obesity, Physical Activity and Diet – England, 2016. Health and Social Care Information Centre, Leeds, 2016. Available here.

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