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Scottish Health Survey

Fun run

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


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

The latest report is from 2018 and you can read the full report in the Scottish Government website.

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

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


  • The number of Scottish adults who consume sugary drinks every day has fallen from 20% in 2016 to 10% in 2018 – for children (aged 2-15) daily consumption has dropped from 35% in 2015/2016 to 16% in 2017/2018.
  • The proportion of adults who are overweight including obese has been stable (between 64% and 65%) since 2008, with adult BMI having risen gradually from 27.1kg/m2 in 2003 to 27.7 kg/m2 in 2018.
  • Mental wellbeing in Scotland is at its lowest since 2008, dropping from a mean WEMWBS score of 50.0 to 49.4 in a decade. Men aged 35-54 and women aged 16-24 have the lowest mental wellbeing with average scores of 47.2-47.6 and 48.2 respectively.
  • People experiencing food insecurity are more likely to have low levels of mental wellbeing than those who are not food insecure (42.2 mean WEMWBS score compared to 50.3 respectively).
  • There has been no change in average alcohol consumption since 2017 with Scottish adults drinking on average 12.5 units of alcohol per week in 2018 and 24% of the population drinking at hazardous or harmful levels (consuming more than 14 units per week).
  • The proportion of regular smokers has remained stable at 19% in 2018; however, those in the most deprived areas are three times more likely to smoke than those living in the least deprived areas (32% compared to 9%).
  • Current e-cigarette use also remained stable at 7% of Scots adults.
  • 71% of adults described their health a good or very good – the lowest recorded since 2008.
  • Two thirds of adults (66%) met the guidelines for Moderate to Vigorous Physical Activity (MVPA) – the highest level in the time series, although there has not been a significant increase since 2013 (64%).


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 2018, 4,810 adults and 1,983 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.