Health Survey for England 1996 published today.
Kenneth Calman, chief medical officer, said:
'This survey gives encouraging news in a number of areas but also
of the government. The survey will be a major tool in the
development and monitoring of the new public health Green Paper to be
launched shortly, and will help to develop policies to enable people
to live longer and healthier lives.
'The report provides information on the prevalence of specific health
conditions. In 1996 these included asthma and accidents as well as
topics that have previously been used to monitor health strategy
targets on blood pressure and obesity. New topics in the 1996 survey
were special measures of general health and, for the first time in
the Health Survey, an analysis of the data by area characteristics to
The findings include:
- 76% of adults assessed their own health as 'good' or 'very good'
- the average blood pressure of adults fell between 1991 and
1996. Women in manual social classes had a higher average blood pressure than those in social class I
- 16% of men and 17% of women aged 16-64 were classified as obese compared to 13% of men and 15% of women in 1991. The likelihood of obesity was higher in manual than in non-manual social classes for both men and women
- 23% of boys, 18% of girls and 12% of all adults at some time in the past had been diagnosed as suffering from asthma
- the annual major accident rate for men was 21 per 100 and 31 per 100 for boys. A strong relationship was shown between accident rates and age. The highest major accident rate was for boys aged 14 - 15
- the major accident rates for women and girls were significantly lower at 15 and 22 per 100 respectively
- 3 in 10 men reported drinking over 21 units per week; 15% of women reported drinking over 14 units per week. Alcohol consumption amongst women was highest in social classes I and II
- the proportion of women smoking had not changed significantly between 1993 and 1996, but among men there was an increase from 28% to 30%
- in particular, the percentage of young men in the 16-34 age group smoking increased from 33% in 1993 to 39% in 1996
1. The 1996 Health Survey for England is the sixth annual survey
undertaken to improve information on the state of the population's
health, risk factors for diseases and the precursors of ill-health.
2. The Survey asked 16,443 adults (aged 16 or over) and 3,885
children (aged 2 - 15) detailed questions about their health and
lifestyle. Respondents were also weighed and measured, blood
pressure and lung function were assessed and blood samples were taken
to bring together comprehensive information in a single survey.
3. The 1996 Health Survey for England was carried out by the Joint
Health Surveys Unit of Social and Community Planning Research, an
independent research institute, and the Department of Epidemiology
and Public Health, University College London.
4. The focus of the 1997 Health Survey is young people aged 2 - 24.
The 1998 survey will concentrate on cardiovascular disease.
5. 'Average' blood pressure referred to above is the mean systolic
blood pressure. This fell from 139mm Hg in 1991 to 136mm Hg in 1996.
6. Obesity is defined as having a Body Mass Index (BMI) greater
than 30.0 kg/m2.
7. A major accident was defined as one which involved subsequent
contact with the medical profession.
8. The incidence of drinking is expressed in the old weekly unit
rate as the survey was designed prior to the new daily benchmarks.
9. Copies of the full report Health Survey for England 1996 are
available from HMSO: ISBN 0-11-322091-X, price£60.