Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

OBJECTIVES: Rates of overweight and obesity vary across England, but local rates have not been estimated for over 10 years. We aimed to produce new small area estimates of body mass index (BMI) by age and sex for each lower tier and unitary local authority in England, to provide up-to-date and more detailed estimates for the use of policy-makers and academics working in non-communicable disease risk and health inequalities. DESIGN: We used generalised linear modelling to estimate the relationship between BMI with social/demographic markers in a cross-sectional survey, then used this model to impute a BMI for each adult in locally-representative populations. These groups were then disaggregated by 5-year age group, sex and local authority group. SETTING: The Health Survey for England 2018 (cross-sectional BMI data for England) and Census microdata 2011 (locally representative). PARTICIPANTS: A total of 6174 complete cases aged 16 and over were included. OUTCOME MEASURES: Modelled group-level BMI as mean and SD of log-BMI. Extensive internal validation was performed, against the original data and external validation against the National Diet and Nutrition Survey and Active Lives Survey and previous small area estimates. RESULTS: In 94% of age-sex are groups, mean BMI was in the overweight or obese ranges. Older and more deprived areas had the highest overweight and obesity rates, which were particularly in coastal areas, the West Midlands, Yorkshire and the Humber. Validation showed close concordance with previous estimates by local area and demographic groups. CONCLUSION: This work updated previous estimates of the distribution of BMI in England and contributes considerable additional detail to our understanding of the local epidemiology of overweight and obesity. Raised BMI now affects the vast majority of demographic groups by age, sex and area in England, regardless of geography or deprivation.

Original publication




Journal article


BMJ Open

Publication Date