First major survey of Britain’s attitudes on obesity published

Public Health England commissioned a set of questions on obesity as part of the British Social Attitudes survey to inform its future work.

The findings of the first British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey on obesity, commissioned by Public Health England (PHE), were published on 8th December 2016. PHE commissioned NatCen Social Research to include a set of questions in its BSA survey to understand the public’s view of obesity and related issues. The paper, Attitudes to obesity, presents NatCen’s analysis of the results.

The primary findings show that people underestimate their weight and struggle to identify the point when someone becomes obese. Almost two thirds of adults are overweight or obese. All of this combined suggests being overweight or obese is normalised in society.

BSA is an authoritative source of data on the views of the British public, carried out annually since 1983. It uses a random probability sampling methodology to yield a representative sample of adults, aged 18 and older, living in private households in Britain. The 2015 BSA survey consisted of 4,328 interviews with a representative, random sample of adults in Britain, and a response rate of 51%.

It is a source of public insight for PHE to use in delivering its commitments as part of the government’s Childhood Obesity Plan.