Personal and public health

Adult health, lifestyle and obesity

The main source of figures for adult health and lifestyle is the Health Survey for England, which is an annual survey undertaken since 1991.

The Survey is published annually by NHS Digital and provides information by age and sex on: blood pressure, height, weight, Body Mass Index (which shows who’s underweight, normal, overweight or obese), waist circumference, smoking, alcohol, fruit and veg eating, diabetes and exercise. The same figures are applied to make estimates for the general population.

Data on hospital admissions for obesity (broken down by age, sex, local area and whether or not special procedures are required) is published by NHS Digital as part of its yearly statistics on obesity, physical activity and diet. Historical figures go back to 2000.

Child health, lifestyle and obesity

Figures for children are also published by the Health Survey for England, with statistics dating back to 1991.

However, additional information on child obesity is also available from the National Child Measurement Programme (published by NHS Digital). This is essentially a census measurement carried out on schoolchildren in reception and year six. This can be helpful for tracking how children’s weight changes while they’re at school.

Drug use and abuse

The National Drug Treatment and Monitoring System publishes information every year on the personal characteristics (such as age, sex and ethnicity) of drug users in treatment.

Drug misuse is also recorded as part of the crime survey for England and Wales but the size and nature of the issue means it’s given a dedicated release published every year by the Home Office.

The figures cover: the extent and trends in illicit drug use amongst adults, frequent drug use in the last year, how accessible drugs are and attitudes to drug taking. The data is also broken down by type of drug, household characteristics and lifestyle.

Figures for drug misuse recorded by the Department of Health – including data on hospital admissions, treatment, drug-related deaths and problem adult and child drug users – are published every year by the NHS Digital. There is some overlap with the Home Office’s data.

Sexually-transmitted infections (STIs)

The number of confirmed cases of STI infections, with breakdowns by age, sex and type of STI (including syphilis, gonorrhoea, herpes, chlamydia and genital warts) is published as part of an annual series by Public Health England, formerly the Health Protection Agency.


Public Health England compiles information on the take up of different types of vaccines (for example, the winter flu vaccine).