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.

Since 1995 there has been a significant increase in the proportion of adults aged 16 to 64 categorised as obese (from 17.2% in 1995 to 25.6% in 2013), although the level has remained fairly constant since 2008. Over the same period, the proportion who were overweight or obese increased from 52.4% to 62.6%, again showing some stability in recent years.

Adult obesity 1995 to 2013













Source: Scottish Health Survey

In 2013, around one in six (16.0%) of children were at risk of obesity (at or above the 95th percentile), with a further 12.8% at risk of overweight (at or above the 85th percentile, and below the 95th).  The proportion of boys at risk of obesity rose from 14.5% in 1998 to 17.2% in 2013. For girls, the proportion at risk was highest in 2009 (15.9%), and was in 2013 (14.8%) was similar to the 1998 level (14.2%).

Child obesity 1998 to 2013














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 at Obesity Indicators 2014.

Further Information