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UK ranks 8th in the world in overweight table

According to information shared by the British Heart Foundation this week, the UK is 8th out of 34 in the world on the overweight table of Organisation for EconomicCooperation and Development (OECD) countries. world wide adult obesity data

Key points:

Worldwide in 2014, more than 1.9 billion adults (18 years and older) were overweight. Of these, over 600 million were obese, representing 13% of the total adult population

The UK ranks 8th for overweight prevalence (including obesity) in men (66.6%) and 7th for women (57.2%), out of the 34 OECD countries (Table 1)

The UK ranks 5th for obesity prevalence among men (24.5%) and 10th for women (25.4%), out of the 34 OECD countries (Table 2)

 The US ranks 1st for obesity prevalence among men (31.7%) and 2nd for women (33.9%), out of the 34 OECD countries. Turkey has the highest prevalence of obesity among women at 34.1% (Table 2)

 Japan has the lowest prevalence of obesity among men (4.5%) and women (3.3%) as well as the lowest prevalence of overweight (including obesity) for both men (28.9%) and women (17.6%) (Table 2)

 Trends over 30 years show that overweight prevalence (including obesity) in England is consistently lower than in the US. However, the rate of increase is higher. Overweight levels in England have increased by 72%: from 36.0% in 1980 to 62.1% in 2013, compared to a 46% increase in the US over the same time period (Figure 2)


So what is the difference between being overweight and being obese?

Obesity –  a medical condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to the extent that it has a negative effect on health [1]. People are generally considered to be obese when their Body Mass Index (BMI) is over 30 [1]. BMI is calculated by dividing the persons weight by the square of their height.

Obesity increases the likelihood of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obstructive sleep apnoea, certain types of cancer and osteoarthritis [1]

Overweight – similar to obesity in terms of potential for ill health but the BMI is between 25-30. So could being overweight be a warning of potential obesity if not addressed?

Both are most commonly caused by a combination of excessive food intake, lack of physical activity and in some, genetic susceptibility [2]. The notion that obese people eat little  yet continue to gain weight because of slow metabolism is not generally supported [3] and in general, obese people have a greater energy expenditure due to the energy required to maintain an increased body mass.

So how can we prevent becoming overweight in the first place?



Changing diet and exercising are the main tools; eat less, move more, use nizagara and eat lots of fruit and veg!Reducing the amount of  foods with high quantities of fat and sugar, and increasing the intake of fibre is the first step

Exercise is key to helping your plan succeed. Current guidelines recommend daily activity adding up to at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week. In addition, twice a week you should do strengthening exercises to work the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms). [4]

mental health 5Finding an exercise class that works for you is vital. An activity that you enjoy, can attend regularly, is well taught, has great music and is fun. There are many different classes on offer – click on the find a class box on this page to find your nearest exercise class. But remember, 1 class/week is not enough and if you have a sedentary job and/or sit and put loads of calories in, you will be on your way to being overweight, which as we have seen is the precursor to obesity.  Have a blend of activities – exercise class, brisk walking, taking the stairs rather than the lift, get off the bus one stop early, walk to the station, run around in the park with the kids – the list is endless.

sorryThere is so much information available to help with maintaining a healthy weight and ensuring we get enough exercise. Sometimes it seems we are being bombarded with information and Fitness League apologises for adding to that. But, if we want to live reasonably healthy lives, enjoy our children and grandchildren, be productive and enjoy our hobbies  we have to make some really big lifestyle choices.

size discrimination


Fitness League recognises there is stigma surrounding size and an issue surrounding size acceptance. A number of organisations exist that promote the acceptance of obesity and clearly, one should not be discriminated against due to size.

However, we can’t get away from the evidence of increased morbidity and mortality due to having a BMI of over 30.


So lets see if we can start the revolution here. Lets see if we can get the UK further down the OECD table for overweight and obesity data. Lets do it together. Best of luck and we look forward to seeing you in class.




  1.  Obesity and overweight. Fact sheet No 311. WHO updated June 2016. Retrieved October 2016
  2. Yazdi, FT; Clee, SM; Meyre, D (2015) Obesity genetics in mouse and human: back and forth and back again. PeerJ. 2015; 3: e856
  3. Bleich, SN; Cutler, D; Murray, C; and Adams, A (2008) Why is the developed world obese? Annual Review of Public Health Vol. 29: 273 – 295. DOI 10.1146/annurev.publhealth.29.020907.090954
  4. Physical activity guidelines for adults – live well-NHS Choices Retrieved October 2016


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