Report Highlights Disparities in Obesity Rates Across England

Pavankumar Kamat

July 08, 2021

A report published by The King’s Fund highlights glaring disparities in rates of obesity and obesity-related illness across England, and calls for urgent measures by the NHS to tackle the same.

Key findings from the report are as follows:

  • In 2019, the proportion of adults in England deemed overweight was 64%, with 28% being classified as obese and 3% as morbidly obese.

  • The difference between obesity rates for women residing in the most and least deprived areas of England is 17%, a rise from 11% in 2014.

  • For men, the deprivation gap was 8%, a rise from 2% in 2014.

  • A similar trend was observed for children in Year 6, with the deprivation gap increasing from 8.5% in 2006-2007 to 13.3% 2019-2020.

  • Over one million hospitalisations related to obesity were recorded in 2019-2020 in England, a 17% rise from 2018-2019.

  • Obesity-related hospitalisation rates in the most deprived areas of England were more than double the rates in the least deprived areas.

  • The NHS expenditure on treatment of obesity-related ill-health was £6.1 billion in 2014-2015, which is expected to grow to £9.7 billion annually by 2050.

The report emphasises the need to improve access to affordable and healthy food in deprived areas and encourage residents to eat well and exercise regularly. It calls on the NHS to collaborate with local partners and work at the community level to implement targeted interventions for obesity prevention and treatment.

Richard Murray, Chief Executive of The King’s Fund, said: "Our analysis lays bare a deep and widening gap in the rates of obesity between the richest and poorest parts of the country, with women in our most deprived communities faring particularly poorly. Given the serious health risks that come with obesity and the significant cost to the NHS, this is exacerbating shocking inequalities in health and will only add extra pressure on the NHS."

The inequalities in childhood obesity are corroborated by The Broken Plate 2021 report from the Food Foundation published recently, which indicates that children aged 4–6 in the most deprived quintile of households in the UK have almost twice the likelihood of obesity compared with those in the least deprived quintile.

This article originally appeared on Univadis, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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