Long Term Monitoring of Health Inequalities: Headline Indicators – October 2015

Annual update of the 'Long-term Monitoring of Health Inequalities' headline indicators.

This document is part of a collection

Adult overweight and obesity

Indicator Source: Scottish Health Survey

Latest Results

  • 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.
  • Men were more likely than women to be overweight including obese (67% compared to 62%), whereas obesity prevalence was higher among women than men (30% compared to 28%).
  • Overweight (including obesity) prevalence was lowest among young people aged 16-24 (42%). A significantly higher proportion of those aged 25-34 were overweight (54%), with further increases with age up to age 65-74. Almost three quarters of those aged 55-74 were overweight including obese (74%), as were 73% of those in the oldest age group (75+).

Figure 1: Proportion of adults overweight and obese, 1995-2015 (ages 16-64) and 2003 to 2015 (ages 16+)

  • Although inequalities in overweight prevalence vary by sex and over time, obesity rates are consistently higher in Scotland's most deprived areas compared to the least deprived (Figure 2). The gap has been particularly pronounced for women in recent years- rates were 34% in the most deprived areas compared to 20% in the least deprived.

Figure 2: Proportion of adults (16+) obese by gender and area deprivation[2], 2003-2015

About This Indicator

Desired Outcome:

Majority of Scotland's adult population in normal weight range throughout adult life.


Overweight - BMI 25+

Obese - BMI 30+

Geography available:

National, Health Board.

Equalities data:

Breakdowns by most equalities groups are possible. Breakdowns by age, gender and disability (limiting long term illness) are available in SHeS 2015 supplementary tables (http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0050/00505713.xls). Further breakdowns, using SHeS 2008-2011 data, are available in the topic report on equality groups published in October 2012. http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2012/10/8988

Rationale for including this indicator:

The aim of this indicator is to monitor changes in the proportion of Scotland's adult population who are overweight and obese. It is used to identify any different patterns (and hence need for specific policy focus) amongst men and women of different ages. It is a long term measure of success of the Route Map.

Factors influencing this indicator:

  • Diet, physical activity and sedentary behaviour are strongly associated with BMI.
  • For women, obesity is significantly associated with area-level deprivation (SIMD) but not for men.[3]


Email: Craig Kellock

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