This chapter focuses on the prevalence of obesity and being overweight among adults, presented by Body Mass Index (BMI) and waist circumference. Trends in the prevalence of being overweight or being obese are presented and relationships between various economic and lifestyle variables and obesity are explored. Regional and sub regional information is provided. Data are also provided using NICE guidelines on the assessment of health risk related to BMI and waist circumference.
The main source of data on the prevalence of obesity and overweight is the Health Survey for England (HSE). The HSE is an annual survey designed to monitor the health of the population of England. Most of the information presented in this chapter is taken from the recently published HSE 20071.
Finally, the chapter focuses on future forecasts of obesity levels in England. This is based on a report published in October 2007 by The Government Office for Science: ‘Foresight Tackling Obesities: Future Choices - Project Report’2 which forecasted levels of obesity in England up to 2050 based on recent trends in obesity prevalence.
recommends the use of BMI in conjunction with waist circumference as the method of measuring overweight and obesity and determining health risks, specifically, the guidance currently states that assessment of health risks associated with overweight and obesity should be based on both BMI and waist circumference for those with a BMI of less than 35 kg/m2. Hence this chapter and subsequent chapters focus where possible on using BMI and waist circumference in order to define overweight and obesity in adults.