New obesity rates indicate that over a quarter of adults in England classified as obese in 2021, with men being more affected.
Data from NHS Digital and Health Survey for England, 2021 reports on the nation’s health and surveyed 5,880 adults about a variety of topics, which included cigarette smoking, e-cigarette use and alcohol consumption. The survey estimates the proportion of people in England who have health conditions, the prevalence varies within the population, determining obesity rates and data for other conditions.
For most of 2021, interviews were by telephone rather than in-person due to the COVID-19 precautions. As a result of these changes, the 2021 findings for smoking, drinking and obesity rates are not directly comparable with those from previous years. The data can be found on the NHS Digital website.
Obesity rates for 2021 are increasing
The 2021 figures for obesity rates show that 26% of adults in England were obese. Obesity levels increased with age, from 8% of adults aged 16-24 to 32% of those aged 65-74.
Furthermore, the obesity prevalence was lowest amongst adults living in the least deprived areas (20%) and highest in the most deprived areas (34%). Plus, 11% of the adults who were obese reported they also had a diagnosis of diabetes from a doctor, compared with 5% of overweight adults and 3% of those who were neither overweight nor obese.
A higher proportion of men were either overweight or obese (69%) compared with women (59%).
Are more people smoking and drinking in England?
The survey also looked at smoking and alcohol rates. They found that 12% of adults in England were current cigarette smokers. Two-thirds of adults (66%) had never regularly smoked. More men (13%) than women (10%) reported that they currently smoked. Furthermore, 5% of all adults were defined as current e-cigarette users. The survey also found that 16% of current smokers also used e-cigarettes, as did 13% of ex-regular smokers, but only 1% of those who had never smoked cigarettes.
The survey also looked at alcohol rates finding that 79% of participants reported they had drunk alcohol in the last 12 months, and 49% reported that they drank alcohol at least once a week. Moreover, men were more likely than women to drink at increasing or higher risk levels, 28% of men and 15% of women usually drank more than 14 units of alcohol a week.