Buckingham Palace with crowds on the Mall

An Autumn 1988 Survey Magazine article, now easily accessible in the Archive via www.amsr.org.uk shows that even 30 years ago UK obesity was already a matter of national concern.

It highlighted findings from the 1983 Report by the College of Physicians which showed that on a basis of Body Mass Index readings, 31% of UK adults were overweight (BMI 25+), and a further 9% were obese (BMI 29+). This led them to refer to obesity as “the biggest health problem in Britain, and more important than AIDS, cigarettes, alcohol and drugs”.

This 1983 report was followed by a Henley Centre study of 40,000 adults per year, with fieldwork by NOP, which indicated that more than half of all men and more than two thirds of all women were concerned about their weight.

It also revealed a surprising correlation between being overweight and eating less. This, coupled with its clear correlation with exercising less and watching TV more, challenges the assumptions held by many people at the time, and later.

These findings and much else on related topics are freely accessible in the Archive and may be compared with a separate 2014 study which showed that as many as 62% of adults in England are overweight; and a World Health Organisation study of UK adults has recently shown that 28% are now clinically obese, compared with the 9% found 30 years ago.

For anyone investigating this issue, the Archive illustrates well the extent to which there has been a total failure to reduce the UK’s obesity problem over the last 30 years.


*The Archive contains a wide range of valuable material that is free to access, and this may be found in the Archive under ‘Survey Magazine (1983-1991)’ or by clicking on this direct link to the archive (link opens on a separate page).


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