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Health Inequalities

Health outcomes

In this section we provide a unique collection of data illustrating the differences that young people aged 10-24 can experience in their physical and mental health outcomes. 

In 2021 there was a 16.6% gap between obesity rates in 10/11 year olds in the least and most deprived areas

Alcohol, smoking and drug use

Alcohol consumption in the teenage years does not show a clear relationship to deprivation as measured either by family affluence or area deprivation (NHS Digital, 2019). Chart HO1 demonstrates this for 11-15 year olds in England, from the regular NHS Digital Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use survey (SDDU).

Chart HO1: Regular alcohol consumption is not related to high area deprivation for 11-15 year olds

On average, people on low incomes drink less alcohol than people on higher incomes across the age span (Alcohol Change, UK, 2022). As adults, people living in deprived areas are many times more likely to experience an alcohol-related hospital admission or die of an alcohol-related cause, so reducing harmful adolescent drinking is important for young people in across all deprivation groups in order to protect against harm in later life.

The relationship between smoking in teenagers and area deprivation is also not entirely clear. There seems to be little discernible relationship in England (Chart HO2), but the absolute levels of smoking in 11-15 year olds are so low that this may just be a feature of the rarity of the behaviour. In Scotland (Chart HO3), looking just at 15 year olds, the rates are a little higher and there is a slight trend for there to be more regular smokers in areas of high deprivation.

Chart HO2: Smoking is not clearly related to area deprivation in 11-15 year olds in England
Chart HO3: Regular smoking is slightly related to area deprivation in 15 year olds in Scotland

Drug use at age 11-15 does not seem to be related to high deprivation in England (Chart HO4); in fact the trend line (for reporting that they took drugs in the last month) suggests a very slight relationship between more frequent drug use and living in an area of less deprivation.  

Chart HO4: Drug use at age 11-15 also shows an unclear relationship with area deprivation in England

All data correct as of 1st May 2022