Association between obesity and prescribed medication use in England

Econ Hum Biol. 2014 Dec;15:47-55. doi: 10.1016/j.ehb.2014.06.002. Epub 2014 Jul 8.


We investigate the association between obesity and use of prescribed medications in England. Data were taken from fourteen rounds of the Health Survey for England (1999-2012), which has measures of current prescribed medication use based on therapeutic classifications in the British National Formulary, and nurse-measured height and weight. We find that obesity has a statistically significant and positive association with use of a range of medicines for managing diseases associated with obesity. The mean probability of using any type of medication is 0.40 in those of normal weight, 0.44 in the overweight, 0.52 in obesity class I and 0.60 in obesity class II/III. Significant positive associations were found between obesity and the use of medication for diseases of the cardiovascular system, gastrointestinal system, respiratory system, and central nervous system, as well as for infections, endocrine system disorders, gynaecological/urinary disorders and musculoskeletal and joint disorders. Use of anti-obesity medication is low, even among those with class II/III obesity.

Keywords: BMI; England; Medication use; Obesity.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight
  • England
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Overweight / epidemiology
  • Prescription Drugs / administration & dosage*
  • Risk Factors


  • Prescription Drugs