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J Epidemiol Community Health. 2009 Feb;63(2):140-6. doi: 10.1136/jech.2008.077305. Epub 2008 Dec 11.

Trends in obesity among adults in England from 1993 to 2004 by age and social class and projections of prevalence to 2012.

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Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, UCL, 1-19 Torrington Place, London WC1E 7HB, UK.



This study aims to project the prevalence of adult obesity to 2012 by age groups and social class, by extrapolating the prevalence trends from 1993 to 2004. Repeated cross-sectional surveys were carried out of representative samples of the general population living in households in England conducted annually (1993 to 2004).


Participants were classified as obese if their body mass index was over 30 kg/m(2). Projections of obesity prevalence by 2012 were based on three scenarios: extrapolation of linear trend in prevalence from 1993 to 2004; acceleration (or slowing down) in rate of change based on the best fitting curve (power or exponential); and extrapolation of linear trend based on the six most recent years (1999 to 2004).


The prevalence of obesity increased significantly from 1993 to 2004 from 13.6% to 24.0% among men and from 16.9% to 24.4% among women. If obesity prevalence continues to increase at the same rate, it is projected that the prevalence of obesity in 2012 will be 32.1% (95% CI 30.4 to 34.8) in men and 31.0% (95% CI 29.0 to 33.1) in women. The projected 2012 prevalence for adults in manual social classes is higher (43%) than for adults in non-manual social classes (35%).


If recent trends in adult obesity continue, about a third of all adults (almost 13 million individuals) would be obese by 2012. Of these, around 43% are from manual social classes, thereby adding to the public health burden of obesity-related illnesses. This highlights the need for public health action to halt or reverse current trends and narrow social class inequalities in health.

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