Millions are overweight, eat badly or drink too much – report

Millions of people in England are overweight, drink too much alcohol, eat badly or fail to do enough exercise, according to a report.

The Health Survey for England 2018, from NHS Digital, found just over four in 10 (41%) adults have no health problems, while more are being diagnosed with diabetes, which is fuelled by obesity.

The study also found that middle-aged people are far more likely to drink too much alcohol on a regular basis than those who are younger, and are far less likely to do enough exercise.

For the study, 8,178 adults and 2,072 children (aged up to 15) were interviewed from households across England.

  • 31% of men
  • 14% of women
The report found 10% of all men and 5% of women drink alcohol nearly every day.

Older age groups are far more likely to drink regularly, with 16% of men and 11% of women drinking nearly every day in the 65 to 74 age group, compared with 4% of men and 2% of women in the 25-34 bracket.

Just 3% of all adults aged 16 to 24 drank on five or more days in the week before the survey, rising to 7% of those aged 25-34, 14% of those aged 45-54, 17% of those aged 55-64 and 21% of those aged 65-74.

The survey also found that almost one in three men (31%) drink more than the recommended amount of alcohol (14 units) every week, as do 14% of women.

Among those aged 45 to 54, 16% of women and 33% of men drink more than the recommended amount, compared with 13% of women and 22% of men aged 16-24.

When it comes to food, the study found just 28% of adults eat five or more portions of fruit and vegetables per day, as do 18% of children.

Meanwhile, 7% of men and women have diabetes that has been diagnosed by a doctor, up from 2% in 1994.

More than half of adults (56%) were found to be at increased, high or very high risk of chronic disease due to their waist circumference and body mass index (BMI).

Some 26% of men and 29% of women were obese. Overall, 2% of men and 4% of women were morbidly obese.

The study also reported that more than a quarter (27%) of adults took less than 30 minutes of moderate or vigorous physical activity per week and were classified as “inactive”. Exercise levels worsened as people got older.

Young people were more likely to say they have slight, moderate or severe depression, with 40% of those aged 16 to 24, compared with 32% of people aged 55-64.

Caroline Cerny, alliance lead at the Obesity Health Alliance, said: “The consistently high rates of overweight and obesity in both adults and children is sadly reflective of the environment we live in – one that is flooded with unhealthy food and drinks and relentless marketing to tell us to buy and eat more and more.”

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