Healthy weight


It is well evidenced that being overweight or obese is associated with an increased risk of ill health. For adults, being overweight or obese can lead to coronary heart disease, hypertension (high blood pressure), liver disease, osteoarthritis, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and 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, primarily affecting the immune system and bone strength. 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 (2020/21) estimates that 66.6% of the adult population (18+ years) in Lancashire-12 and 70.5% in Blackpool are classed as overweight or obese, significantly above the England estimate of 63.5%. For Blackburn with Darwen 63.6% are overweight or obese, similar to England.
  • At a local authority level, Burnley (73.4%), Hyndburn (71.1%) and Pendle (68.7%) have significantly higher proportions of overweight and obesity than England. The other nine authorities are similar.
  • Looking at obesity, Lancashire-12 (29.0%) and Blackpool (37.2%) are significantly higher than England (25.3%). Blackburn with Darwen (26.4%) is similar.
  • For obesity only at district level, Hyndburn (34.1%), Burnley (33.5%), Pendle (32.1%), Fylde (30.7%), and Lancaster (30.2%) are significantly higher than England. Only Ribble Valley (17.6%) is significantly lower.


  • The 2021/22 National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP)* shows in Lancashire-12 there are 2,920 reception (age 4-5) and 5,025 year 6 children (age 10-11) who are overweight or obese (excess weight).
  • This equates to 23.8% of reception-age children, which is significantly higher than England (22.3%).
  • For Blackpool, over a quarter (26.5%) of reception-age children are overweight or obese, which is significantly higher than England. For Blackburn with Darwen (20.2%), the value is significantly better. 
  • For year 6 children in Lancashire-12, 37.6% are overweight or obese, which is similar to England  (37.8%).
  • Blackpool (43.0%) is also significantly higher and Blackburn with Darwen (39.5%) is similar. 
  • Just over three-quarters of reception-aged children in the Lancashire-12 area (75.2%) are a healthy weight, significantly worse than England (76.5%).
  • Blackburn with Darwen (77.6%) is similar to England, while Blackpool is significantly lower (72.8%).
  • For year 6 children, 61.2% in Lancashire-12 are a healthy weight, similar to England (60.8%). 
  • Both Blackburn with Darwen (57.9%) and Blackpool (56.0%) are significantly worse compared to England.

The maps (right) show the proportion of children who are overweight or obese by ward (2019/20 - 2021/22). These are the most recent data (published August 2022). Please note, the proportions are calculated from different counts for each ward, so although a ward may have a 'high' proportion of children who are overweight or obese, the actual count could be lower than another ward. Therefore, caution should be used when comparing areas or looking at these maps, and the underlying ward-level data should also be considered. 

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the NCMP data collection stopped, so this means for some wards, there may not be data available, or counts are so low they are suppressed to avoid potential disclosure.*

For more details please see NHS Digital's NCMP webpage. For trends, please see the NCMP: trends in child body mass index webpage. 

For additional county, unitary and district data for adults and children and further information please see below. Please select the geography type to see what indicators are available as not all are provided across the different footprints. 

If the area has defaulted to 'Counties & UAs in North East region', click on the down arrowhead next to 'Geography', select 'Region' and then 'North West'. This is an issue which is not within our control, apologies.

* The 2021/22 NCMP was the first data collection since the COVID-19 pandemic that was unaffected by school closures and other public health measures. Over 1.17 million children were measured, which is 92% of all children that were eligible to take part. This participation rate, though high, is lower than pre-pandemic years where participation had been at 95% since the data collection in 2014 to 2015. This is likely to be due to resourcing issues within some local authorities during the pandemic recovery process. 
[1] Public Health England : Making the case for tackling obesity. Why invest? 2015

Page updated January 2023