Overweight and obesity
Overview | Key Resources


This page aims to provide resources and information to those working on monitoring obesity throughout the South East, and to share knowledge and good practice.

The National Obesity Observatory provides a single point of contact for wide-ranging authoritative information on data, evidence and practice related to obesity, overweight, underweight and their determinants.

Obesity is described by the UK Public Health Association and the Faculty of Public Health as ‘an excess of body fat frequently resulting in a significant impairment of health and longevity.’ Obesity has serious consequences for health and life expectancy. People who are obese die on average nine years earlier than those of normal weight. Obesity increases the risk of several diseases including:

  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Heart disease and stroke
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Some cancers such as breast cancer and colon cancer

The resulting NHS costs attributable to overweight and obesity are projected to reach £9.7 billion by 2050, with wider costs to society estimated to reach £49.9 billion per year (Foresight 2007). These factors combine to make the prevention of obesity a major public health challenge.

In recent years there has been an ‘epidemic’ rise in obesity rates. In both England and the South East, obesity levels have increased significantly, although levels in this region remain below the national average. Prevalence of obesity in adults in England has increased from 14.9% in 1993 to 24.0% in 2007 (Health Survey for England).

Rising levels of obesity in children are particularly worrying and the government has set a target ‘to halt the year-on-year rise in obesity among children under 11 by 2010, in the context of a broader strategy to tackle obesity in the population as a whole.’

Many factors contribute to obesity but ultimately it is caused by individuals consuming more energy (calories) than they use. The excess calories are stored by the body as fat. At societal level the major causes are changes to dietary habits (such as larger portions, higher fat convenience foods, snacking on junk foods) and a general reduction in levels of physical activity. Action to tackle obesity must address both sides of the equation, which means not only altering accepted behavioural norms in terms of eating habits and physical activity, but also encouraging environmental and policy changes to enable people to be more active and eat more appropriately.

For resources specific to Childhood Obesity, please visit our Childhood Obesity topic page.

Key resources

Lifestyle and behaviours - Obesity - Regional key resources
Date Title Format View
Jun 2009 The 2007/08 National Child Measurement Programme download resource
12 Jan 2006 Choosing Health in the South East: Physical Activity download resource
1 Nov 2005 Choosing Health in the South East: Obesity download resource

Lifestyle and behaviours - Obesity - National key resources
Date Title Format View
  The National Obesity Observatory (NOO) open resource url
5 Mar 2008 Obesity topic page [DH] open resource url

Last review Oct 2009.