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

Children at risk of overweight and obesity

Indicator Source: Scottish Health Survey

Latest Results

  • In 2015, 15% of 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.
  • In 2015, the figure for those at risk of overweight (including obesity) in girls was higher than for boys (29% compared to 26%), though the reverse was true prior to 2014. A higher proportion of boys were at risk of obesity (15%, compared to 14% of girls).
  • Prevalence was highest among those children aged 7 to 11 (30%). Of girls this age, 32% were at risk of overweight including obesity. The equivalent figure for boys of the same age was 29%.

Figure 3: Proportion of children (2-15) at risk of overweight and obesity, 1998-2015

  • A higher proportion of children are at risk of obesity in Scotland's most deprived areas (21% in 2015) compared to the least deprived (13%). The gap between rates in the most and least deprived areas has fluctuated over time, and was as low as 1% in 2008.

Figure 4: Proportion of children (2-15) at risk of obesity by area deprivation[4], 1998-2015

About This Indicator

Desired Outcome:

Fewer children in Scotland overweight and obese.


At risk of overweight (including obesity) - BMI at or above 85th percentile

At risk of obesity - BMI at or above 95th percentile.

(Based on UK 1990 reference chart cut-offs).

Geography available:

National, Health Board.

Equalities data:

Breakdowns by four equalities groups may be possible (sexual orientation and religion are not asked of children), but not all are available annually.

Rationale for including this indicator:

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

Factors influencing this indicator[5]:

  • Diet, physical activity and sedentary behaviour are strongly associated with BMI.
  • Parental BMI: children with an obese parent are significantly more likely to be at risk of being overweight including obese than both those with an overweight parent and those with no overweight parent. They are also significantly more likely to be at risk of being obese.
  • Household income: boys in the lowest income households are more likely than those in other households to be obese. There is no clear association for girls.


Email: Craig Kellock

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