Proportions of the population who are obese or overweight

  • Similar proportions of men and women were obese (24% of men and 27% of women) but men were more likely to be overweight than women (41% of men and 31% of women). These figures have stayed broadly similar in recent years.
  • In 2014, 2% of men and 4% of women were morbidly obese (BMI 40kg/m² or higher).
  • The prevalence of obesity for men and women increased with age, and then decreased in the oldest age groups. Obesity ranged from 9% of men aged 16-24 to a peak of 35% of men aged 55-64, and the equivalent range for women was from 13% aged 16-24 to 35% aged 64-75. The proportion who were overweight also increased with age.
  • More women than men had a high or very high waist circumference, indicating central obesity (66% of women and 54% of men). The difference was particularly marked for the prevalence of a very high waist circumference (45% of women and 32% of men). The proportion with a high or very high waist circumference generally increased with age.

Obesity and other health conditions

  • Obesity and central obesity were both associated with other health conditions, increasing the risk of hypertension, longstanding illness and mental ill health. For example, obese adults had about twice the prevalence of hypertension compared with adults who were neither obese nor overweight (42% of obese men and 37% of obese women, compared with 22% of men and 18% of women of normal weight).

Minority ethnic groups

  • Diabetes risk was calculated by applying alternative BMI thresholds for minority ethnic groups to reflect the differential risk of diabetes between these groups. Black and Asian men and women were at greatest risk of diabetes, despite Asian men having the lowest mean BMI. 83% of Black men and 77% of Asian men were at either increased or high risk of developing diabetes, compared with 68% of all men. Similarly, 87% of Black women and 68% of Asian women were at increased or high risk, compared with 59% of all women.

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