Press release: One in four nurses in England are obese, new research suggests

06 Dec 2017
Sarah Clarke

Press release: One in four nurses in England are obese, new research suggests

One in four nurses in England are obese, according to research commissioned by the Healthy Weight Initiative for Nurses (WIN.) and published 5 December in the BMJ Open. The multi-sector partnership WIN. also found through a survey that one in four nurses do not have enough time to eat healthy meals during their break.

Obesity is strongly linked to cardiovascular disease, cancers, and diabetes, which together are the annual leading cause of death, illness and disability in the UK. Nearly 50 per cent of total National Health Service (NHS) costs can be attributed to behaviours, such as physical inactivity and unhealthy diet, that contribute to obesity and these chronic diseases.

The first of its kind, this national study of obesity in nurses discovered these results after analysing 20,103 individuals aged 17-65 years who completed the nationally representative Health Survey for England over a five-year period (2008-2012). The finding that 25.1 per cent of nurses are estimated to be obese (have a BMI of 30 or more) was significantly higher than those estimated to be obese amongst ‘other’ health care professionals, and was as high as those estimated to be obese in the general population.

Unhealthy work-related factors may be partly to blame. A ‘food at work’ survey by WIN. of 220 nurses attending the Royal College of Nursing Congress 2017 found one in four do not have enough time to eat a healthy meal during their break. One in three nurses reported having to eat where staff change and drugs are stored.

‘With obesity costing the NHS £5.1 billion annually, health professionals modelling unhealthy lifestyles – and finding it difficult to change because of unhealthy workplaces – is of serious concern,’ explained Christine Hancock, director of the lead WIN. partner, C3 Collaborating for Health, and former General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing. ‘Tackling obesity requires a whole-of-society response: from businesses, government, academics, health professionals and the third sector. Through WIN., we’ve identified ways that both employers and individual nurses can address this issue. We are also pleased to report that a prominent global business has pledged support to turn WIN.’s interactive weight-management tool designed by nurses, for nurses, into an app in 2018.’

For more information on the Healthy Weight Initiative for Nurses (WIN.), visit


About the Healthy Weight Initiative for Nurses (WIN.)

From 2015 to autumn 2017, WIN. has provided a unique opportunity to work with registered nurses in England, who are obese, to design initiatives to help nurses to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. WIN. is a collaboration between C3 Collaborating for Health, London South Bank University, and the Royal College of Nursing, funded by the Burdett Trust for Nursing and supported by the Royal College of Nursing Foundation. The prevalence study of obesity in nurses was in collaboration with Edinburgh Napier University.


About C3 Collaborating for Health

C3 Collaborating for Health is a global charity that builds Collaboration to promote 3 behaviour changes: improving diet and avoiding harmful alcohol use; stopping smoking; and increasing physical activity. Since 2009, C3 has partnered on projects with over 60 organisations including local authorities, healthcare providers, foundations and trusts, and businesses in the banking, food, and pharmaceutical industries. In October 2017, Sigma Theta Tau International awarded C3 the internationally renowned ‘Archon Award’ for exceptional leadership in advancing health and welfare through the world. Through our global network of nearly 3,000 members from 75+ countries, we hope to one day realise our vision: a world where people find it easier to live healthy lives.

Visit for more information.



Christine Hancock, Founder & Director, C3 Collaborating for Health

+44 (0) 7831879708