Body fatness

How many people in the UK are overweight or obese?

Percentage (%) of adults in the UK who are overweight or obese (figures from 2013-15)

  Overweight Obese Overweight and obese combined
England 37 25 62
Wales 36 22 58
Scotland 37 28 65
Northern Ireland 37 24 61

Overweight = BMI between 25 and 29.9

Obese = BMI of 30 and over

In all countries, men are more likely than women to be overweight.

Percentage (%) of children aged 2 to 15 in the UK who are overweight or obese (figures from 2013-15)

  Overweight Obese Overweight and obese combined
England 14 16 30
Wales 15 11 26
Scotland 14 17 31
Northern Ireland 18 7 25

* based on 1990 UK BMI reference curves

** based on International Obesity Task Force thresholds

How many cases of cancer could be prevented in the UK if everyone was a healthy weight?

Type of cancer Approximate number of UK cases per year preventable through maintaining a healthy weight
  % Number
Oesophagus (adenocarcinoma) 32 1,700
Pancreas 15 1,400
Gallbladder 17 300
Bowel 14 6000
Breast (postmenopausal) 16 6,900
Womb (endometrium) 38 3,300
Kidney 19 2,100
Ovary 4 280
Prostate (advanced) 9 940
Liver 20 1,100
Stomach (cardia) 19 660
Total for 11 cancers combined 17 24,700

Sources

Obesity statistics come from the Statistics on Obesity, Physical Activity and Diet, England 2015, the Welsh Health Survey 2013 for children and 2014 for adults, the Scottish Health Survey 2014, and the Health Survey Northern Ireland 2013/14.

Find out more about preventability estimates or, for more detailed information, download Appendix A of our Policy Report.

Figures on cancer incidence come from the following sources: for England; for Wales; for Scotland; and for Northern Ireland.