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A picture of health in Scotland

Posted on 22 September 2015 by ScotCen, Research .

The Scottish Health Survey, released today, provides a view of Scotland’s health in 2014. As the survey has been running since 1995 it provides us with the ability to track long-term trends in the health of the country and to gain insight into key issues that impact on our health today. The 2014 report includes data from 4659 adults and 1668 children giving us a really clear view of health across the country. Detailed sections in the questionnaire cover a range of issues, from cardiovascular disease and dental health to respiratory issues and obesity.

One new addition to the 2014 questionnaire was a set of questions on e-cigarette usage in order to examine their usage among the population. In total, around a sixth (15%) of Scottish adults in 2014 said they had ever used e-cigarettes, with this including one in twenty (5%) who said they currently use them.

SHe S2014_E-Cigarettes _01

Use of e-cigarettes was notably higher among those with more of a history of smoking – current e-cigarette usage was 15% among current cigarette smokers, 7% among ex-regular smokers and 1% among those who had never smoked regularly.

Another important area covered in the Scottish Health Survey is diet. Data showed that only one in five (20%) of adults in Scotland met the 5-a-day fruit and vegetable recommendations, with one in ten (10%) not eating any fruit and vegetables. As a whole, adults consumed an average of 3.1 portions of fruit and vegetables a day in 2014, the same amount as in 2003. Women consumed slightly more portions of fruit and veg a day on average (3.3) than men (3.1).

Figures for children were slightly lower, with 14% of children aged 2-15 having met the 5-a-day recommendation and there being an average of 2.8 portions of fruit and vegetables eaten each day by children in the same age group.

Finally, the Scottish Health Survey also included a range of questions around general health and wellbeing. In 2014, around three-quarters (74%) of adults said their health was ‘good’ or ‘very good’ and 8% that it was ‘bad’ or ‘very bad’. Figures for children were higher, with 95% reported to have ‘good’ or ‘very good’ health and just 1% ‘bad’ or ‘very bad’. These figures for both adults and children have been relatively static since 2008.

Self-assessed health also declined as levels of deprivation increased. Using age-standardised figures, 84% of adults in the least deprived areas said they were in good health, and 2% bad, compared with 57% in good health in the most deprived areas, and 18% in bad health. The average life satisfaction for adults (on a scale of 0-10) was 7.8 and highest for those aged 65 and above (8.0-8.1) and lowest for those aged 45-54 (7.5).

The 2014 SHeS survey provides considerable depth on these and many other issues. Over the next two or three weeks more of us at ScotCen will be writing blogs covering some of the most interesting findings from the survey. 

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