A healthy lifestyle is a way of living that lowers the risk of serious ill health or dying prematurely. Overwhelmingly, the evidence is that adopting a healthy lifestyle has a range of health benefits and even relatively minor lifestyle changes can have a significant impact, these include being more active, eating healthy, and avoiding tobacco and harmful use of alcohol.
On average Herefordshire 15 year-olds consume more portions of vegetables and fruit than those nationally and a greater proportion of Herefordshire adults are physically active than in England as a whole. Nevertheless, here as elsewhere, lifestyle related ill-health is contributing to increasing demand on health and social care resources.
Alcohol, smoking and drugs
There is no evidence that alcohol, smoking, or illegal drug use is any more of an issue in Herefordshire than elsewhere. However, they do have a disproportionate impact on people in our most deprived areas. Each result in increased hospital admissions and can lead to chronic long-term ill-health and premature death, and, in the case of alcohol and drugs, serious criminality.
Healthy weight and healthy eating
As is the case nationally the proportion of people in Herefordshire who are overweight or obese is increasing. Of particular concern is that nearly 23% of reception year children are overweight or obese and this rises to nearly 35% by year six.
Regular physical activity is known to improve health and wellbeing at all ages and across a range of indicators. The Department of Heath recommends that over a week adults should undertake a total of at least 150 minutes of at least moderate physical activity. In 2017/18 around two-thirds of adults in Herefordshire met this recommendation; similar to in England as a whole.
Sexual and reproductive health
Good sexual and reproductive health is important for everyone, but sexual ill health affects some groups of people more than others. In Herefordshire, the under 18 conception rate in Herefordshire continues to fall in line with the trend nationally and is one third of that recorded in 2000. However, it remains higher in more deprived areas of Herefordshire. The STI diagnosis rate is lower than the national rate but the HIV diagnosis rate is similar to that observed nationally.