90% of British adults have at least one trait linked to an early death

Nine in ten English adults have at least one unhealthy trait linked to an early death, such as drinking too much alcohol, smoking, or eating a poor diet, reveals NHS survey

Almost 90 per cent of adults in England have an unhealthy lifestyle which is increasing their risk of dying young.

A survey found just 13 per cent of adults are managing to avoid seriously harming their health, whereas 19 per cent have more than three unhealthy traits.

The NHS measured people’s health based on whether they smoke cigarettes, drink too much alcohol, eat enough fruit and vegetables, are obese, and do enough exercise.

Numbers of people who are obese or have type 2 diabetes are rising, and the vast majority of people don’t eat enough fruit or vegetables.

Nine in every 10 people in England have a trait or habit which makes them more likely to die young, such as smoking, drinking, not exercising or eating healthily, or being obese, according to an NHS survey

The Health Survey for England 2017, published today by the NHS, revealed how unhealthy adults in the country are.

Fewer than one in seven people manage to avoid all five dangerous habits experts say to avoid to live a long and healthy life.

A huge 87 per cent of people either smoke, drink too much, are obese, don’t exercise enough or don’t eat enough fruit and vegetables.  

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And nearly one in five people do three or more of those things.  

‘Unhealthy choices increase the likelihood of developing cancer,’ said Susannah Brown, senior scientist at World Cancer Research Fund.

‘So it is worrying to see that over half of adults have two or more of these risk factors, especially as we know that around 40 per cent of cancer cases are preventable. 

‘After not smoking, eating a healthy diet, being more active each day and maintaining a healthy weight are the most important ways you can reduce your cancer risk. 

‘The responsibility to live healthily does not lie solely with individuals – a whole-of-government, whole-of-society approach is necessary to create environments for people and communities that are conducive to healthy living.’ 

Almost two thirds of adults (64 per cent) are overweight or obese, the NHS figures show, and they’re passing it on to their children.

This includes the 5 per cent of women and 2 per cent of men who are morbidly obese – meaning their height-to-weight ratio (BMI) is almost twice as high as is healthy.

In 1993, when the survey began, just 1 per cent of women were classed as morbidly obese. It reached 5 per cent for the first time in 2017.  

Meanwhile the survey also revealed how children whose parents are obese are also more likely to be obese themselves. 

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health said this was a ‘a cycle of life that can have terrible consequences to the health of entire families for generations’. 

More than a quarter (28 per cent) of children of an obese mother were also obese, compared with 8 per cent of children whose mother was not overweight or obese.

And 24 per cent of children of an obese father were also obese, compared with 9 per cent of children where the father was not overweight or obese. 

Overall, three in 10 children aged two to 15 in England were overweight or obese in 2017. 

The 2017 survey also revealed a high rate of people who have undiagnosed diabetes.

Information was gathered on 8,000 adults and 2,000 children by a survey and a nurse visit where various measurements were taken. 

This included blood sugar level measurement which suggested that 20 per cent of adults with diabetes are undiagnosed.   

Meanwhile the proportion of adults with diagnosed diabetes increased between 1994 and 2017, from three per cent to eight per cent among men and from two per cent to five per cent among women. 

The survey also found more than a third (34 per cent) of adults said they were living in chronic pain.   

And 23 per cent of men and 28 per cent of women aged 65 and over need help with at least one day-to-day activity.

This includes washing, going to the toilet, getting up and down stairs or in and out of bed, eating or taking medicine. 

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