Health Survey (NI) 2015/16

Date published: 15 November 2016

The Department of Health today published the “Health Survey (NI): First Results 2015/16”.

The Health Survey (NI) has run annually, on a continuous basis, since 2010/11. The 2015/16 survey included questions relating to general health, mental health and wellbeing, diet and nutrition, obesity, smoking, drinking, and sexual health.

Key Findings

Results from the Health Survey (NI) 2015/16 show that:

  • around seven in ten respondents described their health as being good or very good. There was no difference between males and females however a decline in general health rating was observed with increasing age
  • one-fifth of respondents (19%) scored highly on the GHQ12 suggesting they may have a possible mental health problem. This in keeping with previous health survey findings. Females (21%) were more likely to score highly than males (16%) and respondents in the most deprived areas (27%) were twice as likely to record a high GHQ12 score as those in the least deprived areas (13%)
  • almost four in ten respondents (37%) ate the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, an increase from 33% in 2010/11. Females continue to be more likely to meet the guidelines (41%) than males (31%).
  • Around a quarter of adults (26%) were classed as obese with a further 34% classed as overweight. The proportion of adults classed as overweight or obese (60%) has remained relatively constant over the last decade
  • around three-quarters of children aged 2-15 were classed as either normal weight or underweight, while 16% were classed as overweight and 9% were classed as obese. The proportion of children classified as either overweight or obese has not changed over the last decade
  • around one-fifth of respondents (22%) were current smokers (25% of males and 20% of females). Smoking prevalence has fallen from 25% to 22% over the last decade although it has levelled off over the last three years. Smoking prevalence in the most deprived areas (36%) was almost three times that in the least deprived areas (13%)
  • a small proportion of respondents (6%) reported that they currently use electronic cigarettes. Over half of these respondents (55%) are current smokers and around two-fifths (41%) used to smoke on a regular basis.
  • Around three-quarters of respondents aged 18 and over drink alcohol, 77% of males and 71% of females. A fifth (20%) drink above recommended weekly limits, with males (32%) around three times more likely to do so than females (11%)

Notes to editors: 

1. This publication presents the first results from the 2015/16 Health Survey (NI). This survey has run annually, on a continuous basis, since 2010/11 and covers a range of health topics.

2. The fieldwork for the survey was conducted by the Central Survey Unit of NI Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) and covered the period April 2015 to March 2016.

3. A random sample of 5,850 addresses across the north of Ireland was selected for interviewing.  The final achieved sample was 3,915 individuals.  The response rate for the survey was 60%.

4. Unless otherwise specified, results relate to adults aged 16 and over.

5. The results are based on information that has been weighted by age and sex in order to better reflect the composition of the general population of the north of Ireland.

6. As the results are based on data collected from a sample of the population, they are subject to sampling error. This should be taken into consideration when interpreting the results. Differences reported are those that are statistically significant at the 95% confidence level.

7. . Measurements of height and weight were sought from individuals aged two and over in participating households.  Data were obtained from 457 children aged 2 to 15 years and 2,912 adults aged 16 and above.

8. Adult obesity levels were estimated using the Body Mass Index. This is a widely used indicator of body fat levels which is calculated from a person’s height and weight. BMI is calculated by dividing a person’s weight (in kilograms) by the square of their height (in metres). In adults, a BMI between 25 and 29.9kg/m2 is considered overweight and a BMI of 30kg/m2 is considered obese.

9. Child obesity levels were classified by comparing BMI by sex and age of the child against the growth curve developed by the International Obesity Task Force (IOTF). 

10. The NI Multiple Deprivation Measure 2010 (NIMDM) was used as a measure of deprivation.  The NIMDM 2010 is the official measure of spatial deprivation in the north of Ireland. 

11. This publication is available online.

12. Additional information is available from:

Public Health Information and Research Branch
Information Analysis Directorate
Department of Health
Annex 2, Castle Buildings
Belfast BT4 3SQ

Telephone: 028 9052 2340


13. Media enquiries about this press release to DoH Press Office 028 9052 0505, or out of office hours contact to Duty Press Officer via pager number 07623 974383 and your call will be returned. Follow us on Twitter @healthdpt

Share this page

Back to top