Overweight and obesity statistics

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Cancer cases caused by overweight and obesity

Overweight and obesity is the UK's biggest cause of cancer after smoking

Current overweight or obese

Adults are overweight or obese, 2018/19, UK.

Deprivation

Overweight and obesity in adults is associated with higher deprivation, 2018/19, UK.

Overweight and obesity causes 13 types of cancer: oesophageal, stomach, bowel, liver, pancreas, gallbladder, breast, uterus, ovary, kidney, thyroid, myeloma, and meningioma.

Incidence of some overweight- and obesity-related cancers including uterine, kidney and liver cancer is increasing, at least partly due to increasing prevalence of overweight and obesity. Cancer incidence is expected to rise further if recent trends in overweight and obesity prevalence persist.[1]

Overweight and obesity are major risk factors for the leading causes of death in the world.[2] Overweight and obesity cause an estimated 14% of deaths in Europe, a meta-analysis showed;[3] Overweight and obesity causes 6% of cancer cases in the UK.[4]

UK portrait version shown here. Country versions, cancers caused by other risk factors, and landscape formats are available for free from our cancer risk publications.

References

  1. Wang YC, McPherson K, Marsh T, et al. Health and economic burden of the projected obesity trends in the USA and the UK. Lancet 2011;378(9793):815-25.
  2. World Health Organisation. Obesity and overweight. Accessed March 2019.
  3. Global BMI Mortality Collaboration. Body-mass index and all-cause mortality: individual-participant-data meta-analysis of 239 prospective studies in four continents. Lancet 2016;388(10046):776-86.
  4. Brown KF, Rumgay H, Dunlop C, et al. The fraction of cancer attributable to known risk factors in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and the UK overall in 2015. British Journal of Cancer 2018;;118(8):1130-1141.

About this data

Data is for: UK, 2015, ICD-10 C00-C97 excl. C44.

Last reviewed:

63% of UK adults (aged 18+) are overweight or obese (body mass index [BMI] 25+) (2018/19).[1-4] This equates to an estimated 35 million overweight or obese UK adults.

Overweight (BMI 25-29.9) prevalence in adults in the UK’s constituent nations is higher in males compared with females. Obesity (BMI 30+) prevalence is slightly higher in females, or similar in both sexes.

Making comparisons between the UK’s constituent nations is challenging because of differing methods for measuring overweight and obesity prevalence.

References

  1. NHS Digital. Health Survey for England. Available from https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/health-survey-for-england. Accessed March 2020.
  2. Scottish Government. Scottish Health Survey. Available from https://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Health/scottish-health-survey. Accessed March 2020.
  3. Welsh Government. National Survey for Wales. Available from https://gweddill.gov.wales/statistics-and-research/national-survey/?lang=en. Accessed March 2020.
  4. Northern Ireland Department of Health. Health survey Northern Ireland. Available from https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/topics/doh-statistics-and-research/health-survey-northern-ireland. Accessed March 2020.

About this data

Data is for: UK, 2018/19

Overweight and obesity statistics are collected slightly differently across the UK nations: for England, Scotland and Northern Ireland the data are based on objectively measured height and weight; for Wales the data are based on self-reported height and weight. Body mass index figures based on self-reported height and weight are known to be underestimates in comparison with those based on objective measurements. Comparisons between UK countries should be made cautiously, with this concern in mind.

Last reviewed:

Overweight and obesity (body mass index [BMI] 25+) prevalence among adults (aged 16+) in the UK generally increases until late middle-age and then decreases slightly in older adults.[1-4]

References

  1. NHS Digital. Health Survey for England. Available from https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/health-survey-for-england. Accessed March 2020.
  2. Scottish Government. Scottish Health Survey. Available from https://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Health/scottish-health-survey. Accessed March 2020.
  3. Northern Ireland Department of Health. Health survey Northern Ireland. Available from https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/topics/doh-statistics-and-research/health-survey-northern-ireland.
  4. Accessed March 2020. Welsh Government. National Survey for Wales. Available from https://gweddill.gov.wales/statistics-and-research/national-survey/?lang=en. Accessed March 2020.

About this data

Data is for: UK, 2018/19.

Overweight and obesity statistics are collected slightly differently across the UK nations: for England, Scotland and Northern Ireland the data are based on objectively measured height and weight; for Wales the data are based on self-reported height and weight. Body mass index figures based on self-reported height and weight are known to be underestimates in comparison with those based on objective measurements. Comparisons between UK countries should be made cautiously, with this concern in mind.

Last reviewed:

Obesity (body mass index [BMI] 30+) prevalence in adults (aged 16+) in England and Scotland has overall increased since the 1990s.[1,2] Overweight (BMI 25-29.9) prevalence in adults may have stabilised in recent years.

For Northern Ireland and Wales, long-term trends data on overweight and obesity prevalence is not available.[3,4]

References

  1. NHS Digital. Health Survey for England. Available from https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/health-survey-for-england. Accessed March 2020.
  2. Scottish Government. Scottish Health Survey. Available from https://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Health/scottish-health-survey. Accessed March 2020.
  3. Welsh Government. National Survey for Wales. Available from https://gweddill.gov.wales/statistics-and-research/national-survey/?lang=en Accessed March 2020.
  4. Northern Ireland Department of Health. Health survey Northern Ireland. Available from https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/topics/doh-statistics-and-research/health-survey-northern-ireland. Accessed March 2020.

About this data

Data is for: UK, 1993-2018

Overweight and obesity statistics are collected slightly differently across the UK nations: for England, Scotland and Northern Ireland the data are based on objectively measured height and weight; for Wales the data are based on self-reported height and weight. Body mass index figures based on self-reported height and weight are known to be underestimates in comparison with those based on objective measurements. Comparisons between UK countries should be made cautiously, with this concern in mind.

Last reviewed:

Obesity (body mass index [BMI] 30+) prevalence in adults is generally higher in more deprived groups in the UK’s constituent nations.[1-4] Overweight (BMI 25-29.9) prevalence in adults is generally lower in more deprived groups, or similar across deprivation groups, in the UK’s constituent nations.

Overweight and obesity prevalence in adults in England is higher than the national average in people who identify as Black or White British ethnicity.[5] Overweight and obesity prevalence in adults in England is lower than the national average in people who identify as Chinese, Asian, Other White, Mixed or Other ethnicity.[5]

Overweight and obesity prevalence in adults is generally lower in more deprived countries compared with those less deprived. However overweight and obesity prevalence is increasing particularly in more deprived countries.[6]

References

  1. NHS Digital. Health Survey for England. Available from https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/health-survey-for-england. Accessed March 2020.
  2. Scottish Government. Scottish Health Survey. Available from https://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Health/scottish-health-survey. Accessed March 2020.
  3. Welsh Government. National Survey for Wales. Available from https://gweddill.gov.wales/statistics-and-research/national-survey/?lang=en. Accessed March 2020.
  4. Northern Ireland Department of Health. Health survey Northern Ireland. Available from https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/topics/doh-statistics-and-research/health-survey-northern-ireland. Accessed March 2020.
  5. World Health Organisation. Obesity and overweight. Available from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs311/en/. Accessed March 2020.

About this data

Data is for: UK, 2018/19

Overweight and obesity statistics are collected slightly differently across the UK nations: for England, Scotland and Northern Ireland the data are based on objectively measured height and weight; for Wales the data are based on self-reported height and weight. Body mass index figures based on self-reported height and weight are known to be underestimates in comparison with those based on objective measurements. Comparisons between UK countries should be made cautiously, with this concern in mind.

Last reviewed:

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Acknowledgements

We are grateful to the many organisations across the UK which collect, analyse, and share the data which we use, and to the patients and public who consent for their data to be used. Find out more about the sources which are essential for our statistics.