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National Statistics
Publication, Part of

Health Survey for England, 2015

Official statistics, National statistics, Survey
Publication Date:
Geographic Coverage:
Geographical Granularity:
Country, Regions, Strategic Health Authorities
Date Range:
01 Jan 2015 to 31 Dec 2015



The Health Survey for England series was designed to monitor trends in the nation's health; estimating the proportion of people in England who have specified health conditions, and the prevalence of risk factors and behaviours associated with these conditions. The surveys provide regular information that cannot be obtained from other sources. The surveys have 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.

Each survey in the series includes core questions and measurements (such as blood pressure, height and weight, and analysis of blood and saliva samples), and modules of questions on topics that vary from year to year. The sample in 2015 contained 8,034 adults and 5,714 children and 5,378 adults and 1,297 children had a nurse visit.



Adult smoking

  • 19 per cent of men and 17per cent of women were current smokers.


  • In 2015, 5 per cent of adults were currently using e-cigarettes. The prevalence of ever having used e-cigarettes was much higher among current smokers, at 40 per cent. Only 1 per cent of those who had never smoked had ever used an e-cigarette.

Adult alcohol consumption

  • 31 per cent of men and 16 per cent of women drank over 14 units in a usual week.

Adult obesity

  • 27 per cent adults were obese1. Being overweight was more common than being obese and 41 per cent of men and 31 per cent of women were overweight2, but not obese.

Providing unpaid social care

  • 18 per cent of adults had provided unpaid help to someone in the last month because of long-term physical or mental ill-health, a disability or problems relating to old age.

Children's physical activity

  • Excluding school-based activities, 22 per cent of children aged 5 to 15 met the physical activity guidelines of being at least moderately active for at least 60 minutes every day.

Children's smoking and exposure to other people's smoke

  • 1 per cent of children aged 8 to 15 in the years 2014 and 2015 reported that they smoked regularly (at least one cigarette per week).


  • Among non-smoking children aged 4 to 15, 34 per cent of boys and 38 per cent of girls had detectable levels of cotinine in 2014/2015, indicating exposure to other people's smoke.

Children's drinking

  • Regular drinking by children was rare. 1 per cent of both boys and girls aged 8 to 15 reported usually drinking once a week or more. The proportion who reported drinking once a week or more increased from fewer than 1 per cent of both boys and girls aged 8, to 5 per cent of boys and 4 per cent of girls aged 15.

Well-being of 13-15 year olds

  • The majority of 13 to 15 year olds had high or very high scores on the ONS measures of life satisfaction (81 per cent), feeling that the things they did were worthwhile (78 per cent) and feeling happy yesterday (74 per cent).



1 Obese is defined as a Body Mass Index (BMI kg/m2) of 30 or more.

2 Overweight is defined as a Body Mass Index (BMI kg/ m2) from 25 to less than 30.


Correction notice 14/12/2016   There was an error in table 2 of the Children's drinking tables Excel files where figures for 2003 were repeated. A corrected version of the table is now available below.

Correction notice 23/02/2017   Adult Obesity Excel Table 4: Body mass index (BMI), overweight and obesity prevalence, by equivalised household income and sex  has been replaced to correct errors in the mean BMI figures for men. By mistake the figures for women had been published in the row for men, in addition to the row for women. Standard errors of the mean have also been corrected.


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Last edited: 25 November 2021 9:52 am