But it’s not only about BMI…
Whilst these statistics are worrying and are often used to try and frighten people into losing weight, they are also based on a single measure, known as BMI (Body Mass Index).
BMI is measured by dividing your weight (in kg) by your height squared (in cms). Whilst it is useful for comparison purposes over time and across populations, this measure has been criticised as not taking into account other factors, such as gender, muscle mass and distribution of fat around the body, and for showing skewed results for children and the elderly.
This can lead to people being classified as overweight or even obese despite them being fit and healthy and appearing in proportion.
As a result, health practitioners now use other measures to provide a more comprehensive picture of an individual (although these are not yet used in population statistics). These measures include waist-to-hip ratio, which is measured by dividing your waist circumference by your hip circumference and should be 0.9 or less for men and 0.85 or less for women.