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Publication, Part of

Neighbourhood Statistics, LA model-based estimates of healthy lifestyles behaviours - 2003-05

Official statistics
Publication Date:
Geographic Coverage:
Geographical Granularity:
Strategic Health Authorities, Primary Care Organisations, Government Office Regions, Local Authorities, Middle Layer Super Output Areas
Date Range:
01 Jan 2003 to 31 Dec 2005


The Information Centre (The IC) commissioned the National Centre for Social Research to produce model based estimates of healthy lifestyle behaviours, using information from the Health Survey for England (HSfE). These estimates were produced to help meet users' requirements for more up to date information at the local area level, and will be published on the Neighbourhood Statistics (NeSS) website which is managed by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on Monday 17 December 2007.

Please visit to get access to the model based estimates of healthy lifestyle behaviours. The instructions to get to the NeSS Healthy Lifestyle Behaviours: Model Based Estimates, 2003-2005 are as follows:

  1. go to the NeSS Home Page -
  2. click on 'I want to view or download data by topic'
  3. click on Health and Care under 'Neighbourhood Statistics' topics
  4. select the Healthy Lifestyle Behaviours: Model Based Estimates, 2003-2005 data set.

A model-based approach to producing healthy lifestyle prevalence estimates for each Middle Super Output Area (MSOA) and Local Authority (LA) in England was used because the sample size of national surveys such as the HSfE was too small to provide reliable estimates at a small area level. Model-based estimates and 95 per cent confidence intervals have been produced using 2003-2005 data from the Health Survey for England covering the prevalence of the following healthy lifestyle indicators for adults aged 16 or over:

  • smoking among adults
  • binge drinking for adults
  • obesity among adults
  • consumption of 5 or more portions of fruit and vegetables a day among adults.

Model-based estimates for children's fruit and vegetable consumption have not been released at either MSOA or LA level. A relative lack of precision (shown by the wide confidence intervals) indicated a poor fit of the models to the data.

The 2003-2005 estimates are the second set of model-based healthy lifestyle prevalence estimates to be published on NeSS. Differences in geographical boundaries, modeling methodologies and data sources, however, mean that they are not comparable to the preceding estimates for 2000-2002.


  • just over one in eight Local Authorities (LAs) were estimated to have a significantly higher current smoking rate than England as a whole, and three in ten
  • LAs have a significantly lower smoking rate than England overall.
  • almost one in four LAs were estimated to have a significantly higher binge drinking rate than England as a whole, and just over three in ten LAs were estimated to have a significantly lower binge drinking rate than the national estimate
  • just under a fifth of LAs have an obesity rate significantly higher than the national average, and seventeen per cent of LAs were estimated to have a significantly lower obesity rate than the national estimate
  • almost one in four LAs were estimated to have a significantly higher fruit and vegetable consumption rate than England as a whole, and just over one in five LAs were estimated to have a significantly lower fruit and vegetable consumption rate than the national average
  • the large margin of error at MSOA level mean that we can only identify a very small percentage (in the range of one to three per cent across the range of adult healthy lifestyle indicators that can be described as significantly different to their respective national estimates.

What do the figures tell us about policy objectives / targets being met?

There are a wide range of uses for the data - some of the key PSA targets relate to healthy lifestyle behaviours such as child obesity and smoking along with tackling 'avoidable deaths' and the estimates will help to examine those targets. The estimates can also be used to inform local targeting of health improvement resources, to inform local strategic partnership planning the potential end users e.g. local strategic partners, NHS planners, PHOs. The NHS Priorities and Planning Framework 2003-2006 (PPF) sets out what local organisations need to plan for to meet the Department's PSA targets. Local targets should include the national PSA targets as a minimum, and draw selected targets from a basket of local indicators to address the specific health priorities in the local community.

More recently, the release of the DH Informing Healthier Choices: Information and Intelligence for Healthy Populations strategy (May 2007) sets out a vision to support the implementation of the Public Health White Paper Choosing Health and Our Health, our care, our say. The aim of this strategy is to improve the availability, timeliness and quality of health information and intelligence across England and to increase its use to support population health improvement, commissioning of services for health and well-being, and health protection. In addition to the public health priorities of the Department of Health, these model-based estimates also feed into the Health Profile for England, which was commissioned by the Department of Health's Public Health Information and Intelligence Task Force and produced by the Association of Public Health Observatories.

Thus, for both the Neighbourhood Statistics programme and the local delivery of the PPF targets, there is a growing need for local information relevant to the national targets and headline indicators. These underpin a variety of decision-support and health intelligence functions including local needs assessment and resource allocation; equity audits; benchmarking and fair comparisons between areas.


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Last edited: 11 April 2018 4:56 pm