Healthy weight


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, under-eating, 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

  • The Active Lives Survey (2015/16) estimates that 63.5% of the adult population of Lancashire-12 are living with excess weight, significantly above the national estimate of 61.3%. This suggests there are over 600,000 adults in Lancashire-12 with a weight problem.
  • Figures from QOF 2016/17 showed that there were 147,947 persons (aged 18+) recorded as living with obesity, accounting for 10.6% of the registered population.
  • The districts of Burnley (67.7%) and South Ribble (68.3%) both have significantly higher estimated excess weight prevalence than the national average. As does the neighbouring authority of Blackpool (68.6%).
  • The National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) 2016/17 found a total of 7,262 reception and Year-6 age children from across the Lancashire-12 were living with excess weight.
  • At a district level Burnley (25.6%), Hyndburn (27.2%), Lancaster (26.7%) and West Lancashire (26.8%) were all found to have a significantly higher prevalence of reception age children (4-5) with excess weight than England.
  • Trend line analysis indicates that excess weight prevalence increases as children move from reception age to year six.
  • Estimates of adult underweight, suggest that there are almost 9,000 underweight adults living in Lancashire-12 with Preston estimated to have significantly high levels of adult underweight prevalence.

Further analysis

 Healthy weight in Lancashire report, February 2018 update (PDF 1.51 MB)

Page updated February 2018

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