Obesity in Singapore – an overview 

In 2020, 10.5% of adults aged 18 to 74 years old were living with obesity in Singapore, an increase from 8.6% in 2017. The prevalence of obesity among children aged six to 18 years has also been gradually increasing from 13% in 2017 to 16% in 2021.

The rising prevalence of obesity in Singapore can in part be attributed to busy lifestyles, easy availability of energy-dense and nutritionally depleted fast food and hawker food, as well as a lack of exercise.

Obesity has wide-reaching health implications for Singaporeans, including a heightened risk of non-communicable diseases, in particular Type 2 diabetes mellitus. The socioeconomic costs are also significant. The total costs of obesity as a percentage of healthcare spending in Singapore was estimated to be above 2.9% in a study from 2017. A recent study authored by researchers at the Duke-NUS Medical School, National University of Singapore found that people with obesity have 37% higher healthcare costs and the estimated national cost in medical expenditures and absenteeism is SGD 261 million.

To prevent and reverse the growing prevalence of obesity, the Singapore government has proactively introduced health-promoting public policies and guidelines focused on physical activity and nutrition, such as the Healthy Meals in Schools Programme and National Steps Challenge.

When it comes to treatment options, progress has been made where there exist multidisciplinary obesity treatment centres in Singapore, which comprimise of clinicians, nurses and allied health profressionals, to provide integrated care for people living with obesity.

Across the Southeast Asia region, Singapore has some of the most advanced initiatives when it comes to obesity prevention and management. However, more can be done to ensure that there is uptake of these initiatives. This includes addressing stigma, which prevents health-seeking behaviour, aswell as issues of access.


OPEN Singapore: Mission and remit  

OPEN Singapore (OPEN SG) was established with the objectives to:

  • Bring together obesity experts and policy advocates to discuss solutions to increase the recognition of obesity as an urgent health topic in Singapore
  • Advocate for governmental, clinical and public recognition of the urgent need to modify the obesity ecosystem to support education and training of healthcare professionals, as well as enhanced access and delivery of evidence-based care in obesity
  • Provide a sustained platform to enable best practice sharing and solutions for effective obesity management and prevention and to drive meaningful action and change for people with obesity in Singapore

Key activities to date

OPEN SG was launched in August 2022, with its first inaugural meeting attended by over 40 stakeholders, comprising of policymakers, public health officials, medical practitioners and academics. During the meeting, stakeholders analysed key learnings and outcomes of current obesity initiatives and policies in Singapore. These discussions then inspired further appraisal of initiatives needed and their tangible strategies to effectively prevent and manage obesity in the country. To read more about the discussions during the inaugural meeting, please refer to the following report:

2022 OPEN SG meeting report

OPEN SG: Chair

  • Dr Kwang-Wei Tham, President, Singapore Association for the Study of Obesity (SASO) and Honorary Treasurer, Asia-Oceania Association for the Study of Obesity (AOASO)

OPEN SG: Delegates who participated in the inaugural meeting

Designations are accurate at the time of participation


  • Dr Pernille Andreassen, Senior Researcher, Anthropologist, Danish National Knowledge Centre for Obesity
  • Dr Chow Wai Leng, Director, Epidemiology and Disease Control Division, Ministry of Health, Singapore
  • Dr Eric Finkelstein, Professor, Health Services and Systems Research, Duke-NUS School of Medicine
  • Mr Praveen Raj Kumar, Deputy Director, Group Integrated Care – Clinical Integration, National Healthcare Group
  • Ms Wong Mei Lan, Person with obesity


  • Dr Aung Myint Oo, Chairman, Chapter of General Surgeons, Academy of Medicine, Singapore & Senior Consultant, Dept. of General Surgery, Tan Tock Seng Hospital
  • Dr Kalpana Bhaskaran, President, Singapore Nutrition and Dietetics Association
  • Dr Chan Soo Ling, Consultant, Endocrinology, Ng Teng Fong General Hospital
  • Dr Cheah Ming Hann, Family Physician, Associate Consultant, Jurong Polyclinic National University Polyclinics
  • A/Prof. Daniel Chew, Chairman, Diabetes Mellitus Steering Committee, National Healthcare Group
  • Dr Elaine Chew, Head, Adolescent Medicine, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital
  • Dr Marvin Chua Wei Jie, Consultant, Endocrinology, Sengkang General Hospital
  • Dr Clifford Goh, Director, Group Integrated Care, Wellness, National Healthcare Group
  • Dr George Goh Boon Bee, President, National Foundation of Digestive Diseases (NFDD) & Gastroenterologist and Hepatologist, Singapore General Hospital
  • Dr Goh Su Yen, Senior Consultant, Singapore General Hospital & Head, SingHealth-Duke Diabetes Centre
  • Dr Emily Ho, Senior Consultant, Department of Endocrinology, Singapore General Hospital
  • Mr Gideon Ho, Assistant Director, Health Promotion Board
  • Dr Richard Hui, Director, Primary Care Partnerships, Regional Health System Office, National University Health System
  • Dr Benjamin Lam, Vice-President, SASO
  • Dr Amanda Lim Yuan Ling, Consultant, Endocrinology, National University Hospital
  • Ms Lossini J, Manager, Strategic Planning & Collaborations, Health Promotion Board
  • Dr Deanna Lee, Consultant, Internal Medicine, Sengkang General Hospital
  • Dr June Lee, Senior Consultant, Upper GI & Bariatric Surgery, Changi General Hospital & Immediate Past President, Obesity and Metabolic Surgery Society of Singapore (OMSSS)
  • Dr Vivien Lim, Endocrinologist, Vivien Lim Endocrinology Specialist Centre
  • Dr Natalie Koh, Consultant, Cardiology, National Heart Centre
  • Dr Khoo Chin Meng, Head & Senior Consultant, Endocrinology, National University Hospital
  • Dr Lee Phong Ching, Head, Obesity Centre, Senior Consultant, Endocrinology, Singapore General Hospital
  • Ms Lee Sin Yi, President, Singapore Physiotherapist Association (SPA)
  • Dr Lee Yingshan, Co-lead, NHG Tiered Weight Management Workgroup & Consultant, Endocrinology, Tan Tock Seng Hospital
  • Lee Yung Seng, Head & Senior Consultant, Department of Paediatrics, Khoo Teck Puat – National University Children’s Medical Institute, National University Hospital
  • Dr Stanley Liew, President, Endocrine and Metabolic Society of Singapore (EMSS) & Endocrinologist, Mt. Elizabeth Hospital
  • Dr Rachel Lim, Family Physician, Bedok Polyclinic
  • Dr Cindy Ng Li Whye, Senior Principal Physiotherapist, Obesity Centre, Singapore General Hospital
  • Dr Shanker Pasupathy, Senior Consultant Bariatric Surgery, Starmed Specialist Centre, Digestive Centre & Specialist Centre @ Farrer Park
  • Mr Ryan See, Deputy Director, Primary Care, SingHealth Office of Regional Health
  • Dr Benedict Tan, Chairman/Chief, Exercise is Medicine Singapore & Asia & Senior Consultant, Sport & Exercise Medicine, Changi General Hospital
  • Dr Donna Tan, Lead, NHG Tiered Weight Management Workgroup & Deputy Director, Clinical Services, National Healthcare Group Polyclinics
  • Ms Jessie Tan, Assistant Manager, Group Integrated Care, Clinical Integration, National Healthcare Group
  • Ms Voon Chieh Ling, Senior Manager, Primary Care, SingHealth Office of Regional Health
  • Dr Michael Wong, Group Director, Regional Health System, SingHealth
  • Mr Wu Wei Yan, Regional Health Office, Woodlands Health
  • Asst. Prof. Baldwin Yeung, Consultant, General Surgery, Upper GI & Bariatric Surgery, Sengkang General Hospital
  • Dr Mandy Zhang, Consultant, Sport & Exercise Medicine, Changi General Hospital


1Ministry of Health, Singapore. (2020). National Population Health Survey 2020 (Household Interview and Health Examination). [Online]. Available from: https://www.moh.gov.sg/docs/librariesprovider5/default-document-library/nphs-2020-survey-report.pdf
2Ministry of Health, Singapore. (2020). Obesity trend and programmes. [Online]. Available from: https://www.moh.gov.sg/news-highlights/details/obesity-trend-and-programmes
3Ministry of Health. (2022). Annual prevalence of obesity for children aged below 18 over past five years, their profile and assessed effectiveness of preventive measures. [Online]. Available from: https://www.moh.gov.sg/news-highlights/details/annual-prevalence-of-obesity-for-children-aged-below-18-over-past-five-years-their-profile-and-assessed-effectiveness-of-preventive-measures/
4Soon G, Koh YH, Wong ML and Lam PW. (2008). Obesity prevention and control efforts in Singapore: 2008 case study. Washington: The National Bureau of Asian Research.
5Phan TP, Alkema L, Tai ES, et al. (2014). Forecasting the burden of type 2 diabetes in Singapore using a demographic epidemiological model of Singapore. BMJ Open Diabetes Research and Care. 2:e000012.
6The Economist: Intelligence Unit. (2017). Tackling obesity in ASEAN: Prevalence, impact, and guidance on interventions. [Online]. Available from: https://www.eiu.com/public/topical_report.aspx?campaignid=ObesityInASEAN
7Junxing C, Huynh VA, Lamoureux E, et al. (2022). Economic burden of excess weight among older adults in Singapore: a cross-sectional study. BMJ Open. 12:e064357.
8Health Promotion Board. Healthy Meals in Schools Programme. [Online]. Available from: https://hpb.gov.sg/schools/school-programmes/healthy-meals-in-schools-programme
9Health Promotion Board. National Steps Challenge. [Online]. Available from: https://hpb.gov.sg/healthy-living/physical-activity/National-Steps-Challenge
10Tham KW. (2021). Use of pharmacotherapy in obesity management. The Singapore Family Physician. 47(5): 30-35.