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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 2015, 65% of adults aged 16 and over were overweight, including 29% who were obese.  There has been an increase in the proportion who are overweight or obese among both sexes (aged 16-64) since 1995, from 52% to 62%.  Most of this increase was seen between 1995 and 2008, with figures remaining broadly stable since then.

Proportion of adults overweight and obese, 1995-2015 (ages 16-64) and 2003-2015 (ages 16+)

Obesity SHeS 2015

Source: Scottish Health Survey

In 2015, 15% children aged 2 to 15 were at risk of obesity, with a further 13% at risk of overweight.  Since 1998, the proportion of children aged 2-15 at risk of overweight (including obesity) has fluctuated between 29% and 33%, and was 28% in 2015.

Proportion of children (2-15) at risk of overweight and obesity, 1998-2015

Child obesity SHeS 2015

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