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Health of Scotland's population - Obesity


Obesity can reduce people's overall quality of life. It creates a strain on health services and leads to premature death due to its association with serious chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and hyperlipidaemia, which are all major risk factors for cardiovascular disease. The two major lifestyle factors associated with the growth of obesity are physical inactivity and poor diet.

Body Mass Index (BMI) is the most commonly accepted measure of general obesity. BMI is calculated by dividing weight (measured in kilograms) by height squared (measured in metres). Adults are classed as overweight if their BMI is 25 to less than 30, obese if their BMI is 30 to less than 40 and morbidly obese if their BMI is 40 or more.

In 2016, 65% of adults aged 16 and over were overweight, including 29% who were obese.  There was a significant increase between 2003 and 2008, where prevalence of overweight (including obesity) rose from 62% to 65%. Rates have stabilised since.

Proportion of adults overweight and obese, 2003-2016 (ages 16+)

2016 Adult Obesity

Source: Scottish Health Survey

In 2016, 14% children aged 2 to 15 were at risk of obesity, with a further 15% at risk of overweight.  Since 1998, the proportion of children aged 2-15 at risk of overweight (including obesity) has fluctuated between 28% and 33%, and was 29% in 2016.

Proportion of children (2-15) at risk of overweight and obesity, 1998-2016

Child Obesity 2016

Source: Scottish Health Survey

View chart data

The Scottish Government has established a National Indicator to increase the proportion of healthy weight children.

A summary of indicators linked to obesity is published annually. The latest publication is available here.

Further Information