Obesity and its linked morbidity and mortality is a significant public health challenge on a global scale and places a burden not only on the individual but also on society as a whole. This Mini-Guide presents key themes relating to this challenge, including the means of measuring obesity, the most recent prevalence and trends, the health consequences and causes of obesity along with approaches to counter obesity both at an individual and a population level.
Understanding is facilitated through:
- Summary Points at ends of chapters.
- Links to webpages, resources and further reading.
The Public Health Mini-Guides provide up-to-date, evidence-based information in a convenient pocket-sized format, on a range of current key public health topics. They support the work of health and social care practitioners and students on courses related to public health and health promotion.
Each volume provides an objective and balanced introduction to an overview of the epidemiological, scientific, and other factors relating to public health. The Mini-Guides are structured to provide easy access to information. The first chapters cover background information needed to quickly understand the issue, including the epidemiology, demography and physiology. The later chapters examine examples of public health action to address the issue, covering health promotion intervention, legislative and other measures. The Mini-Guides are designed to be essential reference texts for students, practitioners and researchers with a professional interest in public health and health promotion.
Students will find the books useful to cover assignments and on the ward, and practitioners will love the quick-reference format for use on the ward and in giving patient advice and running clinics on these topics.
There will be a title providing essential information on the priority areas of:
- Non-communicable diseases
Obesity prevalence and trends
There are a number of surveillance programmes which describe prevalence figures for obesity measurements on a national level. Data from these surveys are drawn on to present the most recent figures at the time of publication in the UK and Ireland, North America and Australasia.
UK and Ireland prevalence figures
The 2010 Health Survey for England (HSE) found that for adults aged 16 years and over, 26.2% of men and 26.1% of women were obese; additionally 67.8% of men and 57.8% of women were overweight or obese. It also reports that 34.2% of men and 46.4% of women have a raised waist circumference, whilst only 42.0% of men and 41.1% of women have no increased risk using the BMI and waist circumference WHO classifications; see Table 2.1.1
Prevalence of WHO classifications for adults in England, Health Survey for England 2010
Not applicable 1.1 1.5 No increased risk 42.0 41.1 Increased risk 21.7 13.8 High risk 12.3 18.9 Very high risk 22.8 24.6
Source: Health Survey for England 2010 Copyright © 2012, Re-used with the permission of The Health and Social Care Information Centre. All rights reserved.
The 2010 HSE also describes prevalence amongst children using the UK90 thresholds. Amongst boys aged 2 to 15 years, 17.1% were classified as obese and 31.4% were overweight or obese. For girls of the same age, the figures were 14.8% and 29.2% respectively.1
The National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) collects data from large numbers of children in two primary school year groups in England every year. Prevalence figures from the most recent programme can be found in Table 2.2. These come from the 2010/11 academic year and use UK90 growth charts to determine BMI status.2
Prevalence of BMI status for children in England, NCMP 2010/11
(4 to 5 years of age) Boys 10.1 23.9 Girls 8.8 21.4 Year 6
(10 to 11 years of age) Boys 20.6 34.9 Girls 17.4 31.8
Source: National Health Service Information Service 2012. National Childhood Measurement Programme, England, school year 2010/11.
Both the HSE and the NCMP collect measured height and weight from which BMI is calculated. The HSE also collects waist circumference measurements for adults. This allows raised waist circumference and the WHO classification of increased risk to be calculated.
The Health Survey for England (HSE) is a series of annual surveys designed to measure health and health-related behaviours in adults and children in England. It has a series of core elements that are included every year and special topics that are included in selected years. Anthropometric measurements are included in the core topics, and so BMI and obesity data are produced for every year of the survey. Details on the HSE, along with publications and data can be found at the National Health Service (NHS) Information Centre (IC) website: www.ic.nhs.uk
Details on the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) can be found in the Case Study in Chapter 1 (Box 1.1). Information and publications on the NCMP can be found through the NHS Information Centre website: www.ic.nhs.uk. Further information and publications can be found through the Public Health England Obesity Knowledge and Intelligence team website who publish users’ guides for those people wishing to use NCMP data as well as providing interactive e-atlases, in which NCMP data for all years of the study can be presented for different regions in England and mapped against other regional measures: www.noo.org.uk.
The 2010 Scottish Health Survey (SHeS) reports that for adults over the age of 16 years, 27.4% of men and 28.9% of women are obese whilst 67.8% of men and 62.4% of women are overweight or obese.3
For children aged 2 to 15 years, according to UK90 growth charts, 15.6% of boys were obese and 31.1% overweight or obese; for girls of the same age the figures were 12.9% and 28.5% respectively.3
The SHeS collects measured height and weight data that are converted into BMI. The Scottish Health Survey was introduced in 1995 with data collections in 1995, 1998 and 2003. The continuous Scottish Health Survey began in January 2008 and ran continuously from 2008 to 2011. An annual report is published for each year of the survey, whilst a contract has recently been awarded to continue the survey for a further four years from 2012 to 2015. Information on the SHeS along with publications and statistics can be found through the Scottish Executive Government website: www.scotland.gov.uk
Results from the 2010 Welsh Health Survey (WHS) estimate that for adults aged 16 years and above 22% of men and 21% of women were obese and 63% of men and 52% of women were overweight or obese.4
Using UK90 growth charts for children aged 2 to 15 years the WHS found that 23% of boys were obese and 38% overweight or obese, whilst 16% of girls were obese and 34% overweight or obese.4
The WHS collects self-reported height and weight data rather than measured data. The WHS was established in October 2003 and is an annual survey that runs all year round. The WHS is commissioned by the Welsh Assembly Government to provide information about the health of people in Wales. NatCena, a not-for-profit independent social research organisation, has been involved in the survey since its inception. Information, publications and data from the WHS can be found through the Welsh Assembly Government website: wales.gov.uk
The 2005/06 Northern Ireland Health and Social Wellbeing Survey found that for adults 16 years and older 25% of men and 23% of women were obese, whilst 64% of men and 53% of women were overweight or obese.5 In 2010/11 the Health Survey Northern Ireland reported that 23% of men and women were obese, with 77% of men overweight and obese compared to 53% of women.6
Using UK90 growth charts data from the 2005/06 Northern Ireland Health and Wellbeing Survey found that for children aged 2 to 15 years, 20% of boys were obese and 39% overweight or obese, whilst 15% of girls were obese and 31% were overweight or obese.5 The 2010/11 Health Survey Northern Ireland presented child prevalence figures determined by the International Obesity Task Force (IOTF) growth curves, suggesting that 8% of boys and 9% of girls were obese, whilst a similar percentage of both sexes were overweight or obese (27%).6
The Northern Ireland Health and Social Wellbeing Survey (NIHSWS) was commissioned by the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety and commissioned the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) to conduct the fieldwork for the survey. The survey was conducted in 1997, 2001 and 2005/06. Information, results and publications can be found through the NISRA website: www.csu.nisra.gov.uk
The Health Survey Northern Ireland is a new Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety survey that will run every year on a continuous basis; 2010/11 was the first year of data collection.
Information on this survey can be found through the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety website: www.dhsspsni.gov.uk
Measured data from the 2007 Survey of Lifestyle, Attitudes and Nutrition in Ireland (SLÁN) found that for adults aged 18 years and above, 24% of men and 26% of women were obese, whilst 69% of men and 59% of women were overweight and obese. The SLÁN also collected self-reported height and weight statistics, which reported that 16% of men and 13% of women were obese, with 59% of men and 41% of women overweight or obese, lower than for measured prevalence.7 The 2011 National Adult Nutrition Survey found that for adults aged 18 years and above 45.7% of men and 33.3% of women were obese, whilst 71.3% of...