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Obesity: key points

  • Obesity is linked to many diseases and conditions, for example type 2 diabetes, and decreases life expectancy.

  • In 2015, over a quarter (29%) of all adults in Scotland aged 16 years and over were considered obese. The prevalence remained higher among women than men (30% compared with 28%) and men aged 45-64 years and women aged 45-74 years were most likely to be obese than other age groups.

  • Obesity trends since 1995 (for those aged 16-64) have followed similar patterns for men and women until 2011. Prevalence increased dramatically from 1995, until 2009/2010. Thereafter, prevalence decreased slightly for males until 2014 and it is too early to tell if an increase in 2015 is the start of a change in trend. In contrast, prevalence for women has remained fairly constant over the period 2008 to 2015.  

  • For both men and women a gradient of inequality was evident with deprivation in 2015, with obesity levels highest for those living in the most deprived areas.

  • In 2015, 15% of boys and 14% of girls aged 2-15 years were considered at risk of obesity. For Primary 1 pupils only, this was 10.1% of boys and 9.6% of girls in 2015/16.

  • Risk of obesity for boys and girls varied by deprivation quintile in 2015 and was highest for those living in the most deprived quintile.
  • Scotland has among the highest levels of obesity prevalence for men and women among OECD countries.
  • Estimates of the cost of obesity to Scotland put the total economic cost at as much as £4.6 billion per year in 2014.

Section updates:

  • The last major update of this section was completed in December 2016.
  • The next major update is due to be carried out by end December 2017.
Page last updated: 15 September 2017

© Scottish Public Health Observatory 2014