Healthy weight


Maintaining a healthy weight not only reduces an individual's risk of physical and mental illness, but it also helps reduce the demand and ultimately the costs placed on the health and social care sector.

It is well evidenced that carrying excess weight (being overweight or obese) is associated with an increased risk of ill health. Excess weight in adults can lead to coronary heart disease, hypertension (high blood pressure), liver disease, osteoarthritis, stroke, type 2 diabetes, cancer and reduces healthy life expectancy. People who are overweight or obese may also experience low self-esteem, mental health problems, and stigmatisation and discrimination because of their weight. There is also a significant economic impact, with the annual cost of obesity estimated to be as high as around £27bn, with NHS costs estimated at around £6bn, social care costs £352m and sickness absence costs to business estimated to be around £16m[1].

Being overweight as a child has been associated with a range of health conditions including diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, gallstones, asthma and sleep-disordered breathing, and musculoskeletal conditions. Obese children are more likely to become obese adults and have a higher risk of morbidity, disability and premature mortality in adulthood. There is also evidence of lower school attainment, lower self-esteem and depression amongst overweight and obese children.

Being underweight can also be damaging to health, affecting the immune system, bone strength and can leave an individual feeling fatigued. As with excess weight and obesity, there can be many causes of underweight including not eating a balanced diet, undereating, having an overactive thyroid, dieting or having a mental health issue.

A healthy diet and physical activity are key to maintaining a healthy weight in both adults and children.

Key findings - adult prevalence

The 2016/17 Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) figures indicate that there are 147,947 persons (aged 18+) recorded as living with obesity, accounting for 10.6% of the registered population across the Lancashire and South Cumbria Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) area. Six of the eight clinical commissioning groups in this area have a significantly higher obesity prevalence compared to England (9.7%). The six CCGs are NHS Blackburn with Darwen (11.6%), NHS Blackpool (13.4%), NHS Chorley & South Ribble (10.2%), NHS East Lancashire (11.2%), NHS Fylde and Wyre (11.8%) and NHS West Lancashire (10.8%).

The latest estimates, taken from the Sport England Active People Survey (ASP), 2013-15, suggest that 25.0% of the Lancashire-12 adult (16+) population, 27.7% of the Blackburn with Darwen adult (16+) population and 30.2% of the Blackpool adult (16+) population are living with obesity. When applied to the latest population estimates this suggests that there could be almost 310,300 persons living with obesity across the Lancashire-14 area. This highlights the need for more work around increasing diagnosis levels and patient awareness of the support available from their local GP.

Key findings - child prevalence

  • Figures from the 2015/16 National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) show that 22.5% (3,013) of reception age children and 33.2% (4,133) year six age children in Lancashire-12 are living with excess weight.
  • Trend line analysis indicates that excess weight prevalence increases as children move from reception age to year six.

[1] Public Health England : Making the case for tackling obesity. Why invest? 2015

Further analysis

 Healthy weight in Lancashire (PDF 1.6 MB)

Page updated November 2017