The Scottish Health Survey 2021: summary report

Key findings from the Scottish Health Survey 2021 report.

This document is part of a collection

Chapter 5 Obesity

In 2021, height and weight measurements for adults were self-reported. BMI calculations have been adjusted to allow for comparison with previous years.

In 2021, two-thirds of adults were living with overweight1, similar to or marginally higher than rates in each year since 2008.

67% in 2021

Men have consistently shown higher prevalence of overweight than women each year since 2008.

64% women in 2021

70% men in 2021

Adults living with obesity2 and morbid obesity3 in 2021.

30% obesity

4% morbid obesity

Women were more likely to be living with morbid obesity than men in 2021.

6% women

2% men

In 2021, a much higher proportion of adults aged 16-24 had a healthy weight than those aged 25-34 with further decreases in older age groups.

61% aged 16-24

36% aged 25-35

In 2021, prevalence of overweight (including obesity) generally increased across the age groups to age 55-64.

Mean BMI was lowest for those aged 16-24 and highest for those aged 55-64.

24.7 kg/m2 aged 16-24

29.2 kg/m2 aged 55-64

In 2021, BMI calculations for children were based on unadjusted, self-reported height and weight measurements. It is, therefore, not clear whether any changes compared with previous years are genuine or due to the way the data were collected.

In 2021, almost two thirds of children were in the healthy weight range4, the lowest the survey has recorded.

Almost one in five children were considered at risk of obesity5 in 2021.

18% children

Children aged 12-15 were more likely to be in the healthy weight4 category than younger children in 2021.

The risk of obesity5 was highest for boys aged 7-11 and girls aged 2-6 in 2021.


1 A BMI of at least 25 kg/m2

2 A BMI of at least 30 kg/m2

3 A BMI of at least 40 kg/m2

4 Within healthy range = BMI above 2nd percentile, below 85th percentile.

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



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