Many in England 'unaware' they are overweight or obese, survey suggests

17 July 2021, 11:06 | Updated: 17 July 2021, 13:49

A sizeable portion of adults in England are unaware they are overweight or obese
A sizeable portion of adults in England are unaware they are overweight or obese. Picture: Alamy
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

A vast portion of people in England are unaware they are medically obese or overweight, data released by YouGov suggests.

Two in three English adults are either overweight, obese or morbidly obese, according to NHS figures.

However, just half of the respondents in a survey of 3,719 people perceived themselves as being in those categories.

Roughly 40 per cent described their body weight as "normal", but official NHS statistics - published last December in the Health Survey for England 2019 - say only around 33.3 per cent of people fall into this category.

It comes after the National Food Strategy warned that what we eat, and how it is produced, is doing "terrible damage" to the environment and health, contributing to 64,000 deaths a year in England and driving wildlife loss and climate change.

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Anyone with a Body Mass Index of over 25 is classed as overweight, according to NHS categorisations, while those above 30 are obese and higher than 40 are morbidly obese. These brackets were used for the YouGov research.

Eir Nolsoe, a data journalist for the market research and data analytics firm, said: "This week saw the National Food Strategy's recommendations to government on how to tackle obesity in this country and break Britain's so-called addiction to junk food.

"But YouGov research highlights that many people in England are actually either unaware or in denial about being overweight.

She added: "If the government and health authorities want to successfully drive down obesity figures, it's possible they need to tackle obesity obliviousness first."

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Men aged between 55 and 64 were most likely to be unaware of being obese or overweight.

Just over half of those surveyed in that category perceived themselves as overweight, obese or morbidly obese, when in fact NHS statistics suggest the number should be at almost 80 per cent.

Meanwhile, just over a quarter of young men aged 18-24 classed themselves as overweight, obese or morbidly obese but official NHS estimates say the figure is actually 37 per cent.

YouGov's survey also found that those who are widowed are the most likely to define themselves as overweight, compared to the married, divorced or never-married respondents.

On Thursday, GP Dr Dean Eggitt told LBC that the UK has a national problem of addiction and revealed that in his area of Doncaster a shocking one in four ten-year-olds is obese.