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Volume 489: debated on Tuesday 17 March 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will take steps to introduce a more easily understandable measure of obesity. (263515)

Obesity in adults is measured using Body Mass Index (BMI). It compares weight to height by dividing the weight measurement in kilograms by the square of the height in metres. BMI is the internationally recognised standard for identifying overweight and obesity. An adult who has a BMI equal to 30 or greater is classified as obese.

In children defining obesity is more difficult because they are growing, so both their height and weight change at the same time. In children, standard United Kingdom reference charts for weight relative to height are used which are age and gender specific.

We have no current plans for changing the existing measurement of obesity.