Table 3

Data sources on cardiovascular risk factors in the UK, 1981–2000

Cardiovascular risk factors InformationInitial year (1981)Most recent year (2000)Evaluation
Population blood pressureThe Dietary and Nutritional Survey of British Adults35 and British Regional Heart Study14Health Survey for England 199816Blood pressure data very limited until recent times. For early years The Dietary and Nutritional Survey of British Adults and British Regional Heart Study (only for men) provided mean blood pressure levels. Health Survey for England included these data since 1993.
Smoking prevalenceGeneral Household Survey 1980,15 British Household Panel Survey44General Household Survey 2000,43 British Household Panel Survey44Good data for trends in smoking prevalence categorised by age and sex easily available from General Household Surveys and British Household Panel Survey.
CholesterolBritish Regional Heart Study14Cholesterol levels measured in Health Survey for England 1994 and 1998.16 MONICA Glasgow and Belfast trends 1985–1995 available for comparison (personal communication).Limited data available for the early 1980s. Changing laboratory methods used in the Health Survey for England (1994–1998) made interpretation of recent trends difficult, even when supported by trends from UK MONICA surveys.
ObesityThe Heights and Weights of Adults in Great Britain38Health Survey for England 9816Data on mean BMI and obesity (defined BMI >30) available from two DoH surveys in early 1980s. Data on other anthropometrical measures, for example, waist to hip ratio, were not available in early 1980s but these data available from some more recent population surveys (Health Survey for England).
Physical activityBritish Regional Heart Study14Allied Dunbar Survey 199040No comprehensive population based measures were available before Allied Dunbar Survey 1990. British Regional Heart Study data limited to men aged 40–59. Definitions of physical inactivity varied in different surveys14,16,40 so comparable trend information not available directly. Some indirect evidence of a decline in physical activity available from Department for Transport’s Transport Statistics for Great Britain report.39
DiabetesPoole Diabetes Study47Health Survey for England 98,16 General Practice Research Database74Data on diabetes prevalence are either not available or not comparable for early 1980s. Lately trend information is available from Health Survey for England and General Practice Research Database75 this latter may overestimate trend.
Deprivation1981 Census data2001 Census data awaitedStandardised trend data for deprivation score not available. Information available on: household income, adjusted for tax and benefits, housing tenure.