Health Survey for England (HSE)

The Health Survey for England is an annual survey designed to measure health and health related behaviours in adults and children living in private households in England. It has been undertaken since 1991. Since 1995 the survey has also included children aged 2-15 years, and since 2002 infants under 2 have been included. This is currently the most robust data source to monitor trends in adult obesity.

  • Methodology: Measured height and weight data are recorded as part of a core data set (which also includes general health, smoking, drinking, blood pressure measurements) and topic specific health indicators. Data on fruit and vegetable intake are collected every two years. Child weight status is classified using the 'population monitoring' thresholds of the 85th and 95th percentiles of the British 1990 growth reference population (UK90) to classify children as overweight or obese.(In clinical settings the 91st and 98th percentiles tend to be used.)
  • Start date: 1991 (adults); 1995 (children 2-15); 2002 (infants under 2)
  • Frequency of survey: Annual
  • Most recent return: 2012
  • Commissioned by: Department of Health 1991 - 2005, post 2005 the Information Centre
  • Coverage: England, SHA, Lower level synthetically estimated data is also available for adults
  • Caveats: Data not sufficiently robust to measure geographical boundaries smaller than SHA. Physical activity questionnaire has not been validated (although 2008 data includes objective accelerometry data).
  • Link to data source: Health and Social Care Information Centre, Archived data sources
  • Link to associated reports: Health Survey for England 2008: physical activity and fitness. Statistics on Obesity, Physical, Activity and Diet: England 2011, Health Survey for England 2010: respiratory health, Health Survey for England 2011 report

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