Survey finds reduction in minors smoking and drinking

shutterstock_152226029The number of eight- to 15-year-olds to have ever drunk an alcoholic drink is at its lowest ever level, according to the 2015 Health Survey for England (HSE).

The survey found that 16% of children aged eight to 15 had drunk alcohol, down from the highest point of 45% in 2003.

When it came to cigarette smoking, the proportion of the same age group had also decreased; 19% of eight- to 15-year-olds in 2003 said they had smoked a cigarette, down to 4% in 2015.

The Health Survey for England (HSE) gathers information from adults and children to monitor trends in the nation’s health. The 2015 survey, published today (14 December 2016) by NHS Digital, includes information on adult health and social care. The number of two- to 15-year-olds included in the 2015 survey was increased to enable a specific focus on child health issues.

In 2015, 28% of children aged two to 15 were either overweight (14%) or obese (14%). The proportion of boys who were overweight or obese (30%) was higher than the proportion of girls who were overweight or obese (26%).

The surveys show that the prevalence of childhood obesity in England increased between 1995, when it was first measured, and 2005, but has remained relatively stable at between 14% and 17% since 2008.

Children from lower income households were more likely to be obese compared with those from higher income households: 18% of children from households in the lowest income quintile were obese, compared with 9% of children living in households in the highest income quintile.

For the five to 15 age group, 22% of children met the physical activity guidelines of being moderately active for at least 60 minutes every day.

The survey also includes data on adult health such as smoking, obesity and drinking.


  • The prevalence of cigarette smoking has fallen from 28% in 1998 to 18% in 2015
  • In 2015, the proportion of adults who reported that they were current e-cigarette users was 5%. This is an increase from 2013 when it was 3%.


  • The prevalence of adult obesity has remained between 24% and 27%, for men and women, from 2010 to 2015
  • In 2015, 27% of adults were obese, with a body mass index (BMI) of 30kg/m2 or higher
  • A further 41% of men and 31% of women were overweight, with a BMI of at least 25 but less than 30kg/m2
  • Waist measurements considered ‘very high’ were found in 35% of men and 47% of women. This was more common in middle-aged and older adults than it was among younger people.


  • In 2015, 83% of adults had drunk alcohol in the last 12 months. This figure has remained between 82% and 84% since 2011
  • More than half (52%) of adults said they usually drank at least once a week, with men (60%) more likely to have done so than women (44%)
  • Drinking more than 14 units in a usual week was most common among men and women aged 55 to 64 (41% and 24%, respectively).

The full report can be read here and the trend reports can be found here.

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