• Home
  • Scotland's Weight

Scotland's Weight

Unfortunately, the problem of adult and childhood obesity in Scotland isn’t going away. Trends from the data collected between 2003 to 2014 would appear to confirm this. We have collated statistics to create a number of presentations breaking down the obesity problem by age, gender and social deprivation.

The presentations are free to download.

ObesityAmongAdults2014Adult Obesity in Scotland: Patterns and Trends (2014 data)

PrimaryOneChildrenChildhood Obesity in Scotland (Primary 1): Patterns and Trends (2014/15 data)

ChildrenOverweight1Childhood Obesity in Scotland: Patterns and Trends (2014 data)


Obesity Action Scotland is calling on the next Scottish Government to support 5 measures to make the healthy choice the easy choice.

OAS Election Pledge Card

We would like your help to encourage candidates in your area who are standing in the upcoming Scottish Parliamentary Election to sign our pledge to take bold measures to turn the tide on obesity in Scotland.
Ask candidates standing in your area to pledge their commitment to tackling obesity by downloading and tweeting our Pledge Card to your candidates.

Find candidates standing in your area:

Conservatives | Greens | Labour | Lib-Dem | RISE | SNP | UKIP

Together we can build a food environment where the healthy choice is the easy choice.

We face a significant challenge in the epidemic of obesity and overweight within Scotland and the UK. Obesity and overweight grew to crisis proportions because individual biology and psychology are not in tune with current lifestyles. Our obesogenic environment promotes overconsumption of energy dense foods and inactive lifestyles. The complex interplay of factors that create obesity and overweight cannot be dealt with by simply encouraging individual behaviour change.

In Scotland in 2014, 65% of adults were overweight, including 28% who were obese. Two in every three people are overweight or obese.
Levels of overweight and obesity (measured by mean body mass index) have not changed significantly between 2008 and 2014, however, the picture has worsened since 1995. Whilst rates are not rising significantly at the moment, the prevalence within Scotland is unacceptably high.

Infographic of Scottish Obesity Rates

International comparisons indicate that Scotland has above average levels of adult overweight and obesity. Based on recent OECD figures Scotland has the second highest rate of obesity in adults in Europe, only Hungary has a higher rate.

In 2014, 31% of Scotland's children were at risk of becoming overweight (including obesity). 17% were at risk of becoming obese.
Levels of obesity and overweight have been fairly stable in recent years but some years in the past have shown significant fluctuations. There is evidence that being obese in childhood increases the risk of becoming an obese adult.

Being obese or overweight can increase the risk of developing a range of serious diseases, including type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, some cancers and premature death. For example, Type 2 diabetes is almost 13 times more likely to occur in obese women than in women of normal weight. Many of the diseases that arise in association with obesity shorten life expectancy by 2 to 4 years for those with class 1 obesity (BMI 30-35) and by 8 to 10 years for those with a BMI between 40 and 50.

Infographic of Obesity Related Diseases

The Cost of Obesity
The cost to the NHS in Scotland of overweight and obesity is estimated to be anywhere between £363 million and £600 million. Average NHS costs for people with a body mass index of 40 (severe obesity) are estimated to be twice those for people with a BMI of 20 (within normal weight range).

The costs to the health service of obesity and its comorbidities may be comparable to that attributable to smoking. Healthcare expenditure is only part of the issue; there are also indirect economic costs.

The McKinsey Institute estimates that the cost to the UK is equivalent to 3% of gross domestic product.
This analysis takes into account: loss of productivity attributable to loss of life or impaired life quality, direct health care costs, and investment to mitigate the impact of obesity.

Obesity and Inequalities
Obesity in Scotland shows a strong link with inequalities. There is a need to focus on people who face the greatest and multiple challenges. Women and children in the most deprived areas are particularly affected by more extreme obesity.

Graph showing obesity rates

Source: ScotPHN Report of the Scottish Public Health Obesity Special Interest Group: Expert Group on the Development of the Child healthy Weight Programme in Scotland (August 2014)  

“Scotland has not done enough to see significant and sustained reductions in the proportion of its child population that is overweight or obese.  Furthermore, what has been done has increased rather than decreased the inequality gap in obesity risk between the most affluent and the most deprived amongst Scottish children.”   
ScotPHN, 2014

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, which represents the views of the vast majority of the UK’s 220,000 practising doctors, are united in seeing the epidemic of obesity as the greatest public health crisis facing the UK.
Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, 2013


Join our Mailing List