In Brief

Alarm as report finds more than half of English people gambled last year

NHS boss says gambling firms must take their responsibilities seriously

Official data show that more than half of people aged 16 or older in England gambled at some point during 2018.

Health chiefs have expressed concern after the Health Survey for England 2018 showed that 53% of people had gambled in 2018, which included buying a lottery ticket, with 56% of men reporting that they had gambled and 49% of women.

The chief executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens, said: “These new stats are a stark reminder of how common gambling is in our society and how easy it is to become addicted, particularly with the aggressive push into online gambling.”

He said the NHS is “rolling out new specialist services to tackle mental ill health linked to gambling addiction, as part of our long-term plan” but added that “it is high time that all these firms who spend many millions on marketing and advertising step up to the plate and take their responsibilities seriously”.

However, The Guardian points out that the figures have been falling in recent years.

In 2016, the Gambling Commission reported that 56% of adults aged 16 or older gambled, while 62% had done so the previous year. In 2012, the first year the issue was covered by the Health Survey for England, 68% of men and 61% of women participated in a gambling activity. Stevens insisted that this does not mean the problem has gone away.

The report also says that millions of people are overweight, drink too much alcohol, eat badly or fail to do enough exercise. The survey found 10% of all men and 5% of women drink alcohol nearly every day, with older age groups are far more likely to drink regularly.

The study found that 26% of men and 29% of women were obese. Overall, 2% of men and 4% of women were morbidly obese.

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