Weight Management and Obesity

Obesity is the medical term for being very overweight. The World Health Organization's definition of obesity is a Body Mass Index (BMI) greater than or equal to 30. (WHO (2021) Obesity and overweight https://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/obesity-and-overweight). 

Obesity is a chronic disease and is a complex and often progressive chronic disease, characterised by excess body fat (adiposity) that impairs health (RCP)

Obesity is not a lifestyle choice caused by individual greed, but a disease caused by health inequalities, genetic influences, and social factors: Prof Andrew Goddard (RCP President)


  • Childhood obesity is a global epidemic because of its high prevalence and rapid spread in numerous different countries.
  • The prevalence of overweight and obesity globally amongst children and adolescents aged 5 – 19 has dramatically risen from 4% to 18% between 1975 to 2019 (World Health Organisation, 2020) which is an exponential increase.
  • In the UK, as of 2020, 9.9% of children under the age of 5 are obese and 21% of children aged 10-11 obese (House of Commons Library, 2021).
  • This report from the House of Commons states that a further 13.1% of children under the age of 5 are overweight and 14.1% of children aged 10-11.
  •  It is estimated that at this rate, 25% of girls and boys under 20 in the UK will be obese by the year 2050 (Government Office for Science, 2007).
  • This is alarming as it means more children are at risk of breathing difficulties, increased risk of fractures, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, premature death and disability in adulthood, diabetes and cancer – predominantly breast and bowel cancer (World Health Organisation, 2020).
  • Also, obese children usually grow into obese adults (Birch & Davison, 2001) so these children will also carry these ailments into their adulthood which will lead to a lower quality of life.


Obesity overview https://pathways.nice.org.uk/pathways/obesity

Obesity (guidance, pathways, quality standards) https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/conditions-and-diseases/diabetes-and-other-endocrinal--nutritional-and-metabolic-conditions/obesity

Diet, nutrition and obesity ((guidance, pathways, quality standards) https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/lifestyle-and-wellbeing/diet--nutrition-and-obesity

PH53 Weight management: lifestyle services for overweight or obese adults (2014) https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ph53

PH47 Weight management: lifestyle services for overweight or obese children and young people (2014) https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ph47

PH42 Obesity: working with local communities (2017) https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ph42

NG69 Eating disorders: recognition and treatment (2020) https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng69

QS111 Obesity in adults: prevention and lifestyle weight management programmes (2016) https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/qs111

CG189 Obesity: identification, assessment and management (2014) https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg189
CG43 Obesity prevention (2006; 2015) https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg43

NG44 Community engagement: improving health and wellbeing and reducing health inequalities https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng44

Gov.Uk: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/tackling-obesity-government-strategy/tackling-obesity-empowering-adults-and-children-to-live-healthier-lives

Healthy Weight Coach e-learning programme: https://www.e-lfh.org.uk/programmes/healthy-weight-coach/

Clinical Knowledge Summaries (CKS)

Obesity (2017) https://cks.nice.org.uk/topics/obesity/

Royal College of Nursing Clinical Topics - Public Health: Obesity https://www.rcn.org.uk/clinical-topics/public-health/obesity

Royal College of Child Health and Paediatrics Key Topics - Nutrition and Obesity https://www.rcpch.ac.uk/key-topics/nutrition-obesity



Obesity in Children (2015) https://patient.info/doctor/obesity-in-children

Obesity in Adults (2021) https://patient.info/doctor/obesity-in-adults


RCGP Obesity Hub https://elearning.rcgp.org.uk/mod/page/view.php?id=6534

RCGP Physical Activity and Lifestyle Toolkit https://www.rcgp.org.uk/clinical-and-research/resources/toolkits/physical-activity-and-lifestyle.aspx

e-LfH Obesity programme https://www.e-lfh.org.uk/programmes/obesity/

Health Foundation Podcast - Episode 2: What should nanny do next? The government and obesity (Nov 2020) https://www.health.org.uk/news-and-comment/podcast/episode-02-the-government-and-obesity

Health Education England ‘Making every contact count’ http://www.makingeverycontactcount.co.uk

National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Collection: Brief conversations in primary care: an opportunity to boost health (2021) https://evidence.nihr.ac.uk/collection/primary-care-conversations-how-to-grasp-a-brief-opportunity-to-boost-health/

Public Health England’s Let’s Talk About Weight: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/adult-weight-management-a-guide-to-brief-interventions

MECC: https://www.makingeverycontactcount.co.uk/training/

Moving Healthcare Professionals: https://www.sportengland.org/campaigns-and-our-work/moving-healthcare-professionals


Enhanced Service Spec - download

Weight Management Pathway - download

Outreach Library Service can identify, collate, and summarise evidence for you, to inform your clinical practice, patient pathways and professional development. https://future.nhs.uk/surreyheartlands/view?objectID=26431600)

Public Health England 

Obesity Profile https://fingertips.phe.org.uk/profile/national-child-measurement-programme

Obesity profile: percentage of adults (aged 18+) classified as overweight or obese, counties and UAs (2021) https://fingertips.phe.org.uk/profile/national-child-measurement-programme/data#page/8/gid/1938133368/pat/6/par/E12000001/ati/302/are/E06000047/iid/93088/age/168/sex/4/cid/4/tbm/1/page-options/car-ao-1_car-do-1

Public health matters Blog: Patterns and trends in excess weight among adults in England (March 2021) 


Excess Weight and COVID-19: Insights from new evidence (2020) 


Whole systems approach to obesity (2019) http://www.gov.uk/government/publications/whole-systems-approach-to-obesity

Eatwell guide (206; 2018) http://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-eatwell-guide

Health matters: obesity and the food environment (2017) https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/health-matters-obesity-and-the-food-environment/health-matters-obesity-and-the-food-environment--2

NHS Digital

Statistics on obesity, physical activity and diet, England 2021 (2021) https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/statistics-on-obesity-physical-activity-and-diet/england-2021

National child measurement programme (2020) https://digital.nhs.uk/services/national-child-measurement-programme/

Department of Health and Social Care 

Collection: Physical activity guidelines (2019) https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/physical-activity-guidelines

Local Government Association

Whole systems approach to obesity: a guide to support local approaches to achieving a healthier weight (2019) http://www.local.gov.uk/publications/whole-systems-approach-obesity-guide-support-local-approaches-achieving-healthier

King's Fund

Tackling obesity: The role of the NHS in a whole-system approach (2021)