Health Survey - A few headlines

Updated: Dec 7, 2020

The Government Statistical Service carries out the Health Survey for England (HSE) each year. Due to Covid the last survey published was in 2018 but that's recent enough for this post to be relevant. There are, understandably, a lot of numbers. I wanted to pull out a couple of headlines that caught my eye.

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

Weight-related health risks in adults are largely avoidable. Being over-weight, let alone obese (see next) is something to take seriously. What are the conditions you could be at risk of? Type 2 Diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, atherosclerosis (narrowing of arteries which can lead to coronary heart disease), asthma, metabolic syndrome, several types of cancer, liver and kidney disease and more. You should have your weight in check. Eat well and exercise, and it will happen.

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

Obesity is indicated using BMI. A BMI of 30+ means you're classed as obese (40+ is morbidly obese). I'm male, 39 years old and 5'10" in height. For me to have a BMI of 30 (obese) I would need to weigh 15 stone (just adding context).

It isn't difficult for most of us to stay within a healthy weight range for our height. No - BMI is not an ideal metric - there are flaws. However for the vast majority of us it provides a basic guide of where we should be, and we shouldn't automatically look for excuses when our weight shoots up near the 30+ BMI line.

The fact that 26% of men and 29% of women are obese simply isn't on. It will most often be down to bad food and drink choices, poor (or absent) levels of physical activity and other bad lifestyle choices. There are some medical reasons why someone might have a high BMI (some medications, psychological reasons, diseases) but in 20 years of being around gyms, members and exercise in general, this is a tiny minority (sorry I don't the number).

27% of adults reported less than 30 minutes of moderate or vigorous physical activity per week and were classified as ‘inactive’

It's important to know what 'moderate' exercise means here. The NHS lists examples of moderate exercise as brisk walking, riding a bike and dancing. We're not talking super-intense stuff here.

There is simply no excuse to get less than 30 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise. Please don't say "I don't have time". Please don't say "I can't be bothered" (Lazy Lisa). There is no excuse.

Also, the Government wants you exercising for 150 minutes per week (2.5 hours) to help bring about the MANY physical benefits. Might I add that in an age of lockdowns, high anxiety, high-stress and general horrible-ness, there are significant benefits for your mental health as well if you'd just go for that 30 min brisk walk once a day.

Rant over. Feel much better.


Reference: Health Survey For England (2018)

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