The Department of Health today published the “Health Survey (NI): First Results 2019/20” report and accompanying trend tables.

The Health Survey (NI) has run annually, on a continuous basis, since 2010/11. The 2019/20 survey included questions relating to general health, mental health and wellbeing, loneliness, smoking, e-cigarettes, drinking alcohol, and obesity. The sample size for the survey was 4,085 individuals aged 16 and over.

Key findings:

  • Almost three-quarters of respondents (71%) described their health as being good or very good; self-assessed general health has remained at a relatively similar level over the last ten years.
  • Under a third (30%) of respondents reported having a long-standing physical or mental health condition that reduces their ability to carry out day-to-day activities; 28% of males and 33% of females.
  • Less than one-fifth of respondents (17%) were current cigarette smokers. This is a similar finding compared with 2018/19 though smoking prevalence has fallen from 24% in 2010/11. Respondents living in the most deprived areas (27%) were more likely to smoke cigarettes than those in the least deprived areas (10%).
  • A small proportion of respondents (6%) reported that they currently use electronic cigarettes, a similar finding to the previous year (7% in 2018/19).
  • Over a quarter of adults (27%) were classed as obese with a further 38% classed as overweight; this is an increase in the obesity rate from the 2010/11 finding of 23%. Whilst obesity levels were similar, males were more likely than females to be overweight.
  • Around three-quarters of children aged 2-15 were classed as either normal weight (69%) or underweight (5%), while 20% were classed as overweight and 6% were classed as obese. Since 2010/11, the proportion of children classed as overweight or obese has remained at relatively similar levels.
  • Around three-quarters of adults aged 18 and over drink alcohol, 80% of males and 73% of females. Under a fifth (17%) drink above recommended weekly limits, with males (26%) around three times as likely to do so as females (9%). A fifth of male drinkers (19%) drank on three or more days per week compared with 10% of female drinkers.
  • Under half of respondents (44%) reported eating the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day; an increase from the 2010/11 finding of 32%.  Females continue to be more likely to meet the 5 a day guidelines (50%) than males (38%).
  • Around a fifth of respondents (19%) scored highly on the GHQ12 suggesting they may have a possible mental health problem; this is a similar finding to that recorded in 2010/11 (20%). Respondents in the most deprived areas (27%) continue to be more likely to have a high GHQ12 score than those in the least deprived areas (17%).
  • A fifth of respondents (21%) exhibited signs of loneliness by scoring highly on the UCLA loneliness scale. Respondents living in urban areas and those in the most deprived areas were more likely to exhibit signs of loneliness than those in rural areas and the least deprived areas respectively.

Following on from this summary report, the Department of Health intends to produce more detailed topic specific bulletins and tables throughout 2021. These will be made available on the Health Survey page on the Departmental website.


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