A FAILURE to recognise personal obesity levels is risking the lives of more than half a million Scots, say health professionals.

In a survey conducted by the Nuffield Health organisation, the majority of people in Scotland regularly misjudge their weight.

Around 55% of Scots who were surveyed felt they were overweight, with 9% saying they were obese. However, when subject to body mass index exams, the results revealed that 20% were clinically obese, with 5% considered morbidly obese.

For the former category to apply, a person must register a BMI of more than 30, while the more serious latter group is for those with a BMI of more than 40.

A healthy weight is thought to be between 18.5 to 25, while overweight applies to BMIs from 25-30.

GP and medical director of Wellbeing at Nuffield Health, Dr Davina Deniszczyc, warned of the inherent pressure obesity places on the human body.

She said: "In Scotland, we are seeing a vast number of people unwittingly straying into dangerous medical territory and perhaps not realising that the obesity awareness campaigns are directed at them."

Most Scots classed as obese or overweight felt their weight was not a problem.

Almost two-thirds felt they were not at risk of illness as a result of their weight, although one in five were already suffering from a weight-related problem.

Mr Ahmed Hamouda, consultant obesity surgeon at Nuffield Health, said: "What we are seeing is an ever increasing group of people who sit in 'No Man's Land' between BMI 30 and 45 and for whom effective treatments and weight loss programmes are routinely rationed or ad hoc at best."