Obesity and alcohol consumption at ‘worrying’ levels, reveals England health survey
Smoking among adults is continuing to fall, but obesity and alcohol consumption is still at ‘worrying’ levels.
The trends are shown in data released today in the Health Survey for England 2015, which provides an annual snapshot of the nation’s health.
It notes that the prevalence of adult cigarette smoking has been dropping steadily from 28% in 1998 to 18% in 2015.
The survey, which questions adults and children, also shows that almost a third of men and 16% of women are regularly drinking over the recommended maximum of 14 units of alcohol per week.
The number of children, aged 8-15, who have experience of drinking alcohol is at its lowest level ever reported – 16%, down from 45% in 2003.
The survey also shows 27% of adults are obese. For children, 28% of 2-15 year olds were either overweight or obese.
Royal College of Nursing professional lead for public health nursing Helen Donovan said while the improving trends on smoking and children’s alcohol consumption were welcome, the report highlighted the ‘profound challenges’ to the overall health of the nation.
‘There is a stark need to increase activity levels and reduce obesity in children and adults, especially for the most deprived families who may face multiple problems simultaneously.’
Ms Donovan said it was of deep concern that public health budgets and health visitor posts were under threat, reducing the help available.
Lack of funding
‘Progress can be reversed quickly if help is not available – it would be a tragedy to see the health of the nation decline due to a short-term lack of funding,’ she said.
Alcohol Health Alliance UK chair Professor Sir Ian Gilmore expressed concern over the figures for adult alcohol consumption and called on the government to do more.
‘The government needs to ensure the public are aware of the current drinking guidelines, as well as the harms associated with alcohol,’ he said.
He added that a mass media campaign and clear labelling on the associated alcohol-related harms are needed.