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 2016/17, 71% of adults in Herefordshire met this recommendation; a higher proportion than in England and the West Midlands region. The county also had a lower proportion of people who were classed as physically inactive.
The proportion of people in Herefordshire reporting sexual transmitted infections continues to be lower than nationally, although detection rates for chlamydia are significantly lower than nationally and have declined in recent years. In line with the trend nationally, fewer teenagers are getting pregnant or having babies. The abortion rate is significantly lower than nationally.