Across England, Wales, and Scotland, morbid obesity (BMI ≥40 kg/m²) rates in adults are expected to soar over the next 17 years. New estimates, presented at the European Congress on Obesity (ECO) in Austria last week, predict that the number of morbidly obese adults across England, Scotland and Wales will exceed 4 million by 2035 - more than double the 2015 rate of 1.9 million.
The new estimates indicate that rates of morbid obesity in adults will reach 5% in Scotland (compared with 4% in 2015), 8% in England (2.9% in 2016) and 11% in Wales (3% in 2015) by 2035. By 2035, around 13% of Welsh men and 9% of Welsh women will be morbidly obese if current trends continue.
The data also showed specific trends in social inequalities in obesity. Obesity rates will be highest and see the greatest rise, in adults working in routine and manual positions, analysis found. The difference in obesity levels between those in managerial roles (29% males, 31% females) and those in routine and manual roles (39% males, 40% females) is expected to widen in England and Wales, with the exception of English females where it is expected to reduce. In contrast, the gap in obesity levels between those with less than tertiary education and those with tertiary education is projected to close in all countries, with the exception of Welsh females where it is projected to increase.
Commenting on the estimates, the authors said: "Our study reveals a worrying picture of rising morbid obesity across England, Wales, and Scotland that is likely to weigh heavily on healthcare systems and economies. Strong measures to reverse this future trend must be an important public health priority."