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Scottish Health Survey

Fun run

The only annual national source of information on the health and factors relating to the health of people living in Scotland.

Aim

The Scottish Health Survey gives us an accurate picture of the health of the Scottish population.

The latest report is from 2019 and you can read the full report on the Scottish Government website.

It provides information about how healthy people are, what health services people use and examines the health and health-related behaviour of different groups in society.

The data we collect also informs the Scottish Government National Performance Framework and feeds into nationwide health strategy.

Findings  

  • Two-thirds (66%) of adults met the weekly guidelines for moderate or vigorous physical activity in 2019.
  • This year’s survey provides the first ever national population data on adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).
  • 15% of adults reported four or more ACEs, with those in the most deprived areas almost twice as likely as those in the least deprived areas to report experiencing four or more ACEs.
  • Those who reported four or more ACEs were also significantly more likely to have obesity, be a current smoker, have a limiting long-term health condition, have any cardiovascular disease, have not met the physical activity guidelines, have lower mental wellbeing and/or not have a degree-level qualification or higher.
  • The average number of units of alcohol consumed per week fell to 12.1 units in 2019, the lowest level recorded since 2013 (16.1 in 2013). Men continued to consume more units of alcohol on average per week than women (15.5 units and 8.8 units respectively).
  • Food insecurity remained unchanged at 9% of adults in 2019.
  • Although levels have remained relatively stable over time, gradual increases since 2011 mean that 2 in 3 adults (66%) in Scotland are overweight including obesity, the highest level recorded since 2003.
  • In 2019, 17% of people were current smokers, down from 21% in 2016 and 28% in 2003. This is the lowest rate recorded by the Scottish Health Survey. However, the gap by deprivation continued to widen, with people living in the most deprived areas (32%) more than five times as likely to smoke than those in the least deprived areas (6%).
  • Data on loneliness in Scotland reveals 10% of adults reported feeling lonely either often or all the time in the past two weeks in 2019. People who were lonely often/all of the time had significantly lower mental wellbeing, with loneliness most prevalent among young people aged 16-24 and among those living in the most deprived areas of Scotland.

Methodology

The Scottish Health Survey was first conducted in 1995 and then again in 1998 and 2003 and has been carried out annually since 2008.

We use random probability sampling to select people to take part in the survey. This means that everyone in Scotland has an equal chance of being chosen and ensures that the results are representative of the Scottish population. We also make sure to ask people all over Scotland, including those living more rurally in the highlands and islands. In 2019, 4,903 adults and 1,978 children across Scotland took part in the survey.

Since 2008 there has been a core set of questions and topics that are included every year and a series of topics that are rotated and included biennially. Because we repeat many of the same questions over time, we are able to identify real changes in Scotland’s health and health behaviours. The questionnaire is published as part of the Technical Report which for the 2018 survey can be found here.

Access the latest report