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How healthy is the UK? We dived into all the latest stats to give you the figures on life expectancy, alcohol consumption, obesity and more.
Health is a topic that’s always on the news in the UK, whether it is about the current status of the NHS, how healthy the nation is or the latest medical breakthroughs. We gave the UK a health check by diving into the latest statistics for obesity, life expectancy, alcohol consumption and more. See all the statistics below, skip to a section using the quick links box or learn more about private health insurance.
General health in the UK
- Life expectancy: 81.15 years on average (2020). Of those babies born in 2018, on average, males can expect to live to 87.6 years and females to 90.2 years.
- Healthy life expectancy: The age up to which people can expect to live healthily is 63.1 for men and 63.6 for women.
- UK health spending: £214.4 billion was spent on health care by the government in 2018/2019. This means that £3,227 was spent per person.
- Fertility rate: The UK’s fertility rate is 1.7, which can be compared to the EU’s average of 1.6. The perfect fertility rate is 2.1, which is when each generation replaces itself.
- Deaths: During the first 6 months of 2019, there were 270,762 deaths in the UK. This is compared to 2020, which had 333,233 registered deaths, 12% more than in 2019.
- Alcohol: 57% of adults (aged 16+) in the UK drink alcohol.
- Smoking: 16.6% of adults (aged 18+) in the UK smoke daily.
- Obesity: In 2018, 67% of adult males and 60% of adult females were overweight or obese in the UK.
Number of hospital beds in the UK
With the number of coronavirus cases increasing fast, there has been a lot of speculation about hospital capacity in the UK. As of 2020, there is an average of 127,708 hospital beds available per night across Britain’s 1,257 hospitals. This means that there is one hospital bed for every 430 Brits, which is 47% fewer beds compared to the year 2000.
In 2020, there were an average of 127,708 hospital beds available per night. This means there is one hospital bed for every 430 Brits.
There are 1,257 hospitals in the UK.
Number of coronavirus cases per country over time
Of the 10 countries that have the most cases of coronavirus, South Korea has the highest proportion of hospital beds, with 11.5 beds per 1,000 citizens. As more people get sick, the strain put on health care systems increases, and countries like Iran and the UK are under pressure due to only having 1.5 and 2.4 hospital beds per 1,000 citizens respectively.
Hospital beds per 1,000 citizens
Even though the number of hospital beds isn’t that high, Brits do seem to have confidence that the NHS will be able to take care of the population in a scenario where the coronavirus outbreak results in a higher need for care.
Confidence in the NHS
Coronavirus statistics (as of 23rd September 2021)
- The COVID-19 pandemic has a fatality rate of around 2.8% in the UK and 3.4% globally according to John Hopkins data.
- This is over 28 times higher than the death rate for the seasonal flu, which has a fatality rate of 0.1 on average.
- In the UK, there are currently over 7.5 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 135,455 people have died.
- In total, over 4,705,111 people have died of COVID-19 worldwide.
Since the start of 2021, the UK has administered an average of 12 thousand COVID-19 tests per day. In March 2021, the UK saw a sharp increase in the number of tests given per day, with a daily average of over 18 thousand for the majority of the month.
COVID-19 testing for travel
- Unvaccinated Brits pay a total of £258 when heading to destinations on the amber list.
- This means that the COVID-19 testing industry could make £231 million on average from unvaccinated Brits intending to travel within the next 3 months (September until November).
- This means that the industry could make almost £924 million over the next year from unvaccinated Brits who intend to travel within the next 3 months.
How much does the average Brit pay for their COVID test?
Double vaccinated Brits are only required to take a lateral flow test when travelling to destinations on the green and amber list. Lateral flow tests can cost between £5-£30 from a variety of stores and online sellers.
For adults who have not had both doses of the vaccine or have chosen not to get vaccinated at all, a PCR test is still required for travel. The cost of all PCR tests required for travel could cost £258 on average when heading to countries on the amber list.
How much will COVID tests cost for Brits intending to travel?
According to our travel index survey results, 9% of the UK’s population intend to travel out of the country in the next 3 months (September until November). However, with 19% of over-16s double yet to be vaccinated as of September 2021 – this means that, of the 9% of Brits who intend to travel, 1.7% (170,000) are still unvaccinated. This indicates that the COVID test industry could make an average of £231 million by November 2021 if the number of unvaccinated Brits who intend to travel actually follow through on their holiday plans. Over the next year, this figure could grow to almost £924 million.
Population of those aged over 65 by region
Since the elderly are the most likely to be severely affected by COVID-19, the health of those over the age of 65 is at an increased risk. The map below outlines which UK regions have the most at-risk populations, with the South East leading the way.
|Region||Population over 65 years|
|East of England||1,218,475|
|Yorshire and the Humber||1,016,336|
Population of different ages by region
|Region||Aged 0 to 15||Aged 16 to 24||Aged 25 to 49||Aged 50 to 64||Aged 65+|
|Yorkshire and the Humber||1,046,381||628,850||1,742,840||1,045,208||1,016,336|
In the UK, females have a longer life expectancy than males, at 82.9 years and 79.3 years respectively. Explore the table below to see how life expectancy has changed from 2013-2015 to 2016-2018 and which regions have the highest life expectancy.
Across most regions in the UK, the average life expectancy has increased, but nowhere has seen a bigger increase than London, with the average life expectancy now 25 weeks longer than it was in 2013-2015. However, in Scotland, the average life expectancy has decreased by 2.9 weeks on average.
Life expectancy comparison for males and females in UK regions, 2013-2015 and 2016-2018 compared
|Region||Male life expectancy in 2016-2018 (years)||Change since 2013-2015 (weeks)||Female life expectancy in 2016-2018 (years)||Change since 2013-2015 (weeks)||Average change for both males and females (weeks)|
|Yorkshire and the Humber||78.7||5.5||82.4||4.3||4.9|
There were over 541,500 deaths in the UK in 2018, an increase of 1.6% from 2017 and the highest annual number of deaths since 1999 (553,500).
deaths were registered in the UK in 2018, up 1.6% from 2017.
Top causes of death in the UK
of deaths in the UK were caused by dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
It’s no secret that the UK has a strong drinking culture, but just how much of a problem is it?
- There were 337,000 alcohol-related hospital admissions in 2018, 2% of overall hospital admissions.
- Alcohol-specific deaths are higher among men, in fact, they are 55% more common in men than in women (since 2001).
- There were 5,698 alcohol-specific deaths in 2018, 2% less than in 2017 (5,843).
- 57% of the UK adult population drink alcohol, a total of 29.2 million people.
But how do these figures stack up against the rest of the world? The UK ranks 17th for alcohol consumption across Europe, while France, Ireland and Germany all rank within the top 10. See the table below for the top 20 countries.
Alcohol consumption across Europe
|Country||Alcohol consumption in people aged 15+ (litres per capita)|
We looked at the latest statistics to see how many adults (aged 18+) are smoking daily in the UK compared to other countries around the world. 16.6% of the adult population smokes daily, which means the UK ranks 20th out of 35 countries compared on their smoking habits. The country with the lowest percentage of smokers is Costa Rica, where 4.2% of people smoke on a daily bases. The country with the highest percentage of daily smokers is Indonesia, where 39.9% of adults smoke daily.
Percentage of smoking population in different countries
|Country||Percentage of population that smokes daily|
|China (People's Republic of)||24.70%|
26% of UK adults are obese, according to recent government reports. The stats below explore just how bad the obesity figures in the UK are.
- 64% of UK adults were overweight or obese in 2017.
- 11,117 hospital admissions were directly attributable to obesity in 2018/2019, an increase of 4% from 2017/2018.
- There were 876,000 hospital admission where obesity was reported as a factor in 2018/2019, up 23% from 2017/2018.
- Overall, 67% of men and 60% of women are classified as overweight or obese.
- 20% of children in Year 6 are classified as obese.
- 67% of adults are considered active as per government guidelines.
injuries occurred at the workplace in 2018/2019, 40,000 less than in 2017/2018.
Major depression is thought to be the second leading cause of disability worldwide and a major contributor to suicide and ischaemic heart disease. Below are some more stats regarding mental health in the UK.
- 1 in 6 people experienced a common mental health problem within the last week.
- 1 in 5 women are reported to have mental health problems.
- 1 in 8 men are reported to have mental health problems.
- There were 6,507 suicides in the UK in 2018, almost 700 more than in 2017 (5,821).
- Three-quarters of these suicides in the UK were by men.
The cost of health insurance
13% of the UK population has some kind of health insurance, and, in general, Brits spent £6 billion on voluntary health insurance in 2017, which was around 3% of overall spending on health care in the UK. We looked into the consumer price index (CPI) of health insurance to find out how much inflation is impacting the cost of health insurance in the UK. Using 2015 as a base year, we can see that health insurance cost 21% more in 2019 than it did in 2015 and 5% more than in 2018. Explore the table and graphic below to find out more.
The CPI of health insurance, 2003-2019
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