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Adult obesity in England

The Health Survey for England 2021 estimates that 25.9% of adults in England are obese and a further 37.9% are overweight but not obese. Obesity is usually defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or above. BMI between 25 and 30 is classified as ‘overweight’.

The survey, published in December 2022, found that men are more likely than women to be overweight or obese (68.6% of men, 59.0% of women). People aged 45-74 are most likely to be overweight or obese.

Bar chart showing a breakdown of excess weight by age in England.

Source: NHS Digital, Health Survey for England, Table 1

Since 1993 the proportion of adults in England who are overweight or obese has risen from 52.9% to 64.3%, and the proportion who are obese has risen from 14.9% to 28.0%.

In the most deprived areas in England, prevalence of obesity or being overweight is 14 percentage points higher than in the least deprived areas. 

Four charts showing variation in obesity and overweight in England broken down by deprivation, disability, ethnicity and level of qualification

Source: Sport England Active Lives Survey data, via OHID

For information on policy in this area, please see our briefing paper Obesity.

Childhood obesity in England

10.1% of reception age children (age 4-5) were obese in 2021/22, with a further 12.1% were overweight. At age 10-11 (year 6), 23.4% were obese and 14.3% overweight. This data is gathered as part of the National Child Measurement Programme and published by NHS Digital.

Chart showing a breakdown of weight categories for children in England in 2021/22

In both age groups, boys are slightly more likely than girls to be obese. This difference is less than one percentage point at ages 4-5 (reception), but rises to six percentage points among ages 10-11 (year 6).

Obesity among year 6 children has increased over time. Please note that data for 2020/21 was gathered using a different method, which may explain the spike in that year.

Line chart showing that obesity in year 6 children has increased in recent years while obesity in reception children has changed little

Childhood obesity and deprivation

Children living in the most deprived parts of England are substantially more likely to be obese. Among reception (ages 4-5) children in 2021/22, 6.2% of those in the least deprived areas were obese compared with 13.6% of those in the most deprived areas.

In Year 6 (ages 10-11), 13.5% of children in the least deprived areas were obese, compared with 31.3% in the most deprived areas. So in both age groups, children in the most deprived areas were approximately twice as likely to be obese. Rates of severely obesity among children were around four times higher in the most deprived areas.

Obesity across the UK and related statistics

As well as local authority data for England, the full briefing (download available above) includes data for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as international comparisons. In addition to statistics on the prevalence of obesity, this briefing gives trends in bariatric surgery for obesity.

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