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.

Interactive report


Key findings


  • The Active Lives Survey (2022/23) estimates that 65.7% of the adult population (18+ years) in Lancashire-12 and 72.1% in Blackpool are classed as overweight or obese, significantly above the England estimate of 64%. For Blackburn with Darwen 60.9% are overweight or obese, which is statistically similar to England.
  • At a district level, Pendle (72.7%) and Hyndburn (72.4%) have significantly higher proportions of overweight and obesity in adults than England (64%). The other nine authorities are statistically similar to England.
  • When considering obesity, Lancashire-12 (28%) and Blackburn with Darwen (31%) and  Blackpool (33.2%) all have statistically significantly worse rates of obesity when compared with England (26.2%).
  • At district level in Lancashire-12 Hyndburn (34.4%) has a significantly higher proportion of obesity in adults whilst all other districts are similar to England.


  • The 2022/23 National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP)* shows in Lancashire-12 there are 2,765 reception (age 4-5) and 4,930 year 6 children (age 10-11) who are overweight or obese (excess weight). 

4-5 Year olds

  • In Lancashire the proportion of reception-age children who are overweight or obese (22.9%) is significantly higher than England (21.3%), there has been no significant change in the trend for this figure locally despite declines nationally .
  • In the districts Hyndburn and Burnley both have a higher proportion of overweight or obese children when compared with England at 27.3%. Further to this, in Burnley over 1 in 10 4-5 year olds are obese which is statistically significantly worse than England. All other districts have an overweight and obesity proportion that is statistically similar to England. Trend data shows no significant change for the districts for this group of children.
  • For Blackpool, over a quarter (27.4%) of reception-age children are overweight or obese, which is significantly higher than England. For Blackburn with Darwen (21.5%), the value is statistically similar. 
  • Just over three-quarters of reception-aged children in the Lancashire-12 area (76.4%) are a healthy weight, significantly worse than England (77.5%), there is no change in these proportion currently.
  • Blackburn with Darwen (76.5%) is similar to England, while Blackpool is significantly lower (71.6%).

10-11 year olds

  • For year 6 children in Lancashire-12, 36.8% are overweight or obese, which is similar to England  (36.6%), in both Lancashire and nationally the trend data show this is increasing & getting worse.
  • In the districts there is considerable variation, the proportion of overweight and obese children in significantly higher than England in Burnley (40.3%), Preston (40.0%) and Lancaster (39.2%) - these districts are all seeing an increase in the proportion of children who are categorised in this group, along with Fylde (though the rates here are similar to England).
  • Further to this, in Burnley, over 1 in 4 10-11 year olds is obese which is significantly worse when compared with England (22.7), rates of obesity are increasing nationally, in Lancashire, and in 4 of the 12 districts. (Burnley, Preston, Chorley, and Fylde)
  • Severe obesity is also increasing and whilst Lancashire currently has a rate lower than that of England (5% vs 5.7%) there is a significantly higher rate in Burnley (7.1%), rates for this measure are also rising in 4 Lancashire districts (Burnley, Fylde, Chorley, and Wyre).
  • 3 districts have a lower rate of overweight and obese 10-11 year olds (South Ribble, Wyre, and Ribble Valley - all under a third of the population.).
  • Blackpool (42.3%) and Blackburn with Darwen (39.5%) are is significantly worse than England though trend data here shows no significant change.
  • For year 6 children, 61.9% in Lancashire-12 are a healthy weight, similar to England (61.9%) but this is declining both locally and nationally. 
  • Both Blackburn with Darwen (57.6%) and Blackpool (56.7%) are significantly worse compared to England, BwD is declining whilst Blackpool has seen no significant change.

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 May 2024