NHS Digital's Health Survey for England published

NHS Digital's Health Survey for England was published today, releasing data on the state of the nation's health.

The survey looked at a range of health issues relating to adult health but also looked at prevalence of overweight and obesity and smoking and drinking in childhood.

For children, key findings include:

  • In 2016, 16% of children aged between 2-15 were obese and 12% overweight
  • The proportion of children aged between 8-15 who smoked decreaded from 18% boys and 20% girls in 1997, to 6% boys and 3% girls in 2016
  • In 2016, 16% of children aged between 5-15 ate five or more portions of fruit and vegetables a day
  • 15% of children aged between 8-15 drink alcohol, a sharp fall from 45% in 2003

Responding to the findings of the Health Survey for England 2016, Professor Mary Fewtrell, Nutrition Lead for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child (RCPCH), said:

“Today’s survey highlights some positive steps forward when it comes to child health - fewer children are drinking alcohol and there has been significant progress on reducing the number of young people who smoke. This is clearly great news. However, the same cannot be said for healthy eating with just 16% of children aged between 5-15 eating five or more portions of fruit and veg a day. Progress on tackling childhood obesity is also disappointing with figures stalling from last year and remaining at 28%.

“We simply cannot afford another year of rates remaining stagnant and look to Government for bold action to help this country get to grips with its obesity crisis. We need to educate children early on healthy lifestyles so need PSHE lessons delivered on the curriculum in all schools. We urgently need industry to play its part by reducing salt, sugar and fat in its products and we need robust evaluation of the sugar reduction programme to determine what impact the sugar tax is having on consumption.”