About Obesity

The prevalence of obesity among adults has increased sharply during the 1990s and early 2000s. The proportion who were categorised as obese (BMI 30kg/m2 or over) increased from 13.2% of men in 1993 to 24.4% in 2012 and from 16.4% of women in 1993 to 25.1% in 2012 (Health Survey for England). In addition 9.7% of boys and 8.8% of girls (all children 9.3%) in Reception year (aged 4-5 years) and 20.4% of boys and 17.4% of girls (all children 18.9%) in Year 6 (aged 10-11 years) are also classified as obese according to the British 1990 population monitoring definition of obesity (≥95th centile) (National Child Measurement Programme 2012/13). By 2050 obesity is predicted to affect 60% of adult men, 50% of adult women and 25% of children (Foresight 2007).

In adults, obesity is commonly defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more. For children in the UK, the British 1990 growth reference charts are used to define weight status [1].

Obesity is associated with a range of health problems including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. The resulting NHS costs attributable to overweight and obesity are projected to reach £9.7 billion by 2050, with wider costs to society estimated to reach £49.9 billion per year (Foresight 2007). These factors combine to make the prevention of obesity a major public health challenge.

We have compiled PowerPoint slides presenting key data and information on adult and child obesity in clear, easy to understand charts and graphics.

To find out more:

Download Healthy Lives, Healthy People: A call to action on obesity in England, 2011
For latest information on obesity treatment and prevention please visit NICE and Cochrane. Also see NOO summaries of NICE and Cochrane guidance:


1: Cole TJ, Freeman JV, Preece MA (1995) Body mass index reference curves for the UK, 1990. Archives of Disease in Childhood 73:25-29