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National Statistics
Publication, Part of

Health Survey for England - 2013

Survey, Other reports and statistics, Official statistics, National statistics
Publication Date:
Geographic Coverage:
Geographical Granularity:
Primary Care Trusts, Country, Councils with Adult Social Services Responsibilities (CASSRs), Strategic Health Authorities, Regions
Date Range:
01 Jan 2013 to 31 Dec 2013


The Health Survey for England series was designed to monitor trends in the nation's health, to estimate the proportion of people in England who have specified health conditions, and to estimate the prevalence of certain risk factors and combinations of risk factors associated with these conditions. The surveys provide regular information that cannot be obtained from other sources on a range of aspects concerning the public's health and many of the factors that affect health.

Each survey in the series includes core questions and measurements (such as blood pressure, height and weight, and analysis of blood and saliva samples), as well as modules of questions on topics that vary from year to year. Four topics are reported for the first time this year: medicines, eye care, end of life care and a comparison of the health of shift workers and non-shift workers.

Many chapters in this report contain more charts and less detailed descriptive text than in previous survey reports. We would very much welcome readers' views about this change.

The Health Survey for England has been carried out since 1994 by the Joint Health Surveys Unit of NatCen Social Research and the Research Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at UCL (University College London). A total of 8,795 adults and 2,185 children were interviewed in 2013.

Please note this release was revised on 11 December 2014. This revision corrected Chapter 7 figures for median and mean number of portions of fruit and vegetables and the associated standard errors in the tables and corrected the 2013 data points for men and women aged 33-64 in Figure 10P - Morbid Obesity Prevalence, 1993-2013.

Key Facts

Adult smoking

  • 24 per cent of men and 17 per cent of women reported they were current smokers. Current smoking was highest among adults aged 25-34 (37 per cent of men and 24 per cent of women).
  • 3 per cent of adults were currently using e-cigarettes (vapourisers); and a further 2 per cent of men and 1 per cent of women were currently using other nicotine delivery products but not e-cigarettes.


  • 43 per cent of men and 50 per cent of women reported that they had taken at least one prescribed medicine in the last week. 22 per cent of men and 24 per cent of women reported that they had taken at least three prescribed medicines in the last week. This proportion increased with age, with more than half of participants aged 65-74 and more than 70 per cent of those aged 75 and over having taken at least three prescribed medicines.


  • Survey participants were asked to rate their eyesight assuming that they were using their glasses or contact lenses, if needed. Almost two thirds of adults rated their eyesight as excellent or very good, (66 per cent of men and 62 per cent of women). Eight per cent of both sexes said that their eyesight was fair or poor.
  • 88 per cent of men and 85 per cent of women said that they did not have an eyesight condition diagnosed by a doctor or optician. While very few adults below the age of 45 had any diagnosed conditions, half or more of those aged 75 and over had at least one condition. Cataracts were the most commonly reported condition.


  • Around a quarter of adults in 2013 were obese, (26 per cent of men and 24 per cent of women). Being overweight was more common than being obese and 41 per cent of men and 33 per cent of women were overweight, but not obese. Both BMI and waist circumference contribute to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) calculation of health risk caused by overweight and obesity. By these definitions, more than half of men and women were in the increased, high or very high risk categories.

Shift work

  • Shift workers were more likely to report fair or bad general health (28 per cent of men and women) than non-shift workers (21 per cent of men and 23 per cent of women). Shift workers were also more likely to have a limiting longstanding illness (25 per cent of men and 28 per cent of women) than non-shift workers (19 per cent of men and 24 per cent of women).

Social Care for people aged 65 or over

  • 23 per cent of older men and 33 per cent of older women needed help with at least one activity related to personal care and mobility about the home that is basic to daily living such as having a bath or shower or getting up and down stairs (described as Activities of Daily Living or ADLs). Slightly under half of these people received at least some help (11 per cent of men and 14 per cent of women). However, the majority of older people who needed help with ADLs had at least some unmet need (19 per cent of men and 29 per cent of women), even if they were also receiving help with other ADLs.


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Last edited: 16 September 2020 8:32 am