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National Statistics
Publication, Part of

Health Survey for England, 2016

Official statistics, National statistics, Survey
Publication Date:
Geographic Coverage:
Geographical Granularity:
Country, Regions, Strategic Health Authorities
Date Range:
01 Jan 2016 to 31 Dec 2016


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, e.g. about alcohol and smoking, 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 trend tables show data for available years between 1993 and 2016 for adults (defined as age 16 and over) and for children. The survey samples cover the population living in private households in England. In 2016 the sample contained 8,011 adults and 2,056 children and 5,049 adults and 1,117 children had a nurse visit.

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Adult overweight and obesity

  • 26 per cent of men and 27 per cent of women were obese . The proportion of adults who were obese has been similar since 2010.
  • Being overweight was more common than being obese and 40 per cent of men and 30 per cent of women were overweight, but not obese.

Physical activity in adults

  • 66 per cent of men and 58 per cent of women aged 19 and over met the aerobic activity guidelines of at least 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week or an equivalent combination of both, in bouts of 10 minutes or more.

Blood pressure

  • 28 per cent of adults had high blood pressure (hypertension). 12 per cent of adults had untreated hypertension.

Prescribed medicines

  • In 2015/16, nearly half, 48 per cent, of adults had taken at least one prescribed medicine in the last week, and almost a quarter, 24 per cent, had taken three or more.

Adult alcohol consumption

  • 31 per cent of men and 16 per cent of women usually drank at increased or higher risk of harm in 2016 (i.e. more than 14 units of alcohol in a usual week)

Smoking among adults

  • Since 1993 there has been a steady decline in the proportion of men and women who were current smokers, from 28 per cent to 20 per cent in 2016 among men, and from 26 per cent to 16 per cent among women

Social care for older adults

  • 24 per cent of men and 31 per cent of women aged 65 and over needed help with at least one Activity of Daily Living.

Kidney and liver disease

  • 2 per cent of adults reported having a chronic kidney disease as diagnosed by a doctor. Older people were more likely to report a doctor-diagnosed chronic kidney disease.
  • 1 per cent of adults reported having doctor-diagnosed chronic liver disease. The prevalence was highest among those aged 55 to 64 (3 per cent).


  • Men and women living in more deprived areas had lower well-being scores, on average, than those living in less deprived areas. Those living in the most deprived areas had average well-being scores of 48.0 compared with 51.2 among those living in the least deprived areas.

Overweight and obesity in children

  • 16 per cent of children aged 2 to 15 were obese and a further 12 per cent of children were overweight (but not obese). 

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 27/11/2019:

An error has been identified in the derivation of equivalised income (including equivalised income quintiles and equivalised income tertiles). This error affected four tables in the 2016 HSE report that use equivalised income in three separate topic reports: Adult well-being, Adult social care and Children's health. Corrections have been made to version 2 of these reports and tables and are available below. Corrected estimates change by between 0-2%, but the narrative around the relationships remains stable.


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Last edited: 25 November 2021 9:41 am