• In England, 62% of adults are overweight or obese and only 36% of adults walk or cycle five times per week, on average.
  • A majority of adults are overweight or obese in nearly all local authorities, while a minority of adults walk or cycle more than five times per week in nearly all local authorities.

This chart shows the relationship between the share of adults who self-identified as overweight (with a body mass index of over 25kg/m2) and the share of adults who walk or cycle regularly, by local authority in England in 2018/19. It shows a simple association between the two variables. Other factors are likely to contribute to these findings (such as commuting patterns or access to cycling routes) and the relationship can be two way, with higher obesity rates likely to mean less cycling and walking in each area and vice versa.

Increasing physical activity and minimising the time spent sitting down helps to maintain a healthy weight and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer and depression.  The NHS recommends that adults should do at least 150 minutes of moderate activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity, each week.

  • Regions outside London tend to have higher levels of obesity and lower levels of walking and cycling.
  • In England, the areas with the highest adult overweight or obese rates are Thurrock, Hartlepool and Rotherham, all at 76%. In all three areas, regular walking and cycling rates are below average.

Promoting and investing in active travel opportunities can help to reduce overweight and obesity rates and should be part of a broader effort to make local environments less conducive to higher weight levels (obesogenic).

  • Adults (aged 18 years and older) are defined as overweight (including obese) if their self-reported body mass index is greater than or equal to 25kg/m2.
  • Walking refers to any continuous walking of more than 10 minutes, irrespective of purpose; and cycling refers to any cycling, irrespective of length or purpose.

Source: Department for Transport, Active Lives Survey, Table CW0301, 2018/19 and Public Health England, Percentage of adults (aged (18+) classified as overweight or obese, 2018/19

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