Public Health

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 10 May 2023.

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Photo of Geraint Davies Geraint Davies Labour, Swansea West

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, which public health factors created the 10 largest direct cost impacts on the NHS in 2021; and how much the NHS spent in 2021 on tackling the health impacts of the following public health factors: (a) air pollution, (b) alcoholism, (c) obesity, (d) excessive salt consumption and (e) smoking.

Photo of Neil O'Brien Neil O'Brien The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

The Department does not have data that denominates the 10 health determinants with the largest direct National Health Service cost impact. Global Burden of Disease data which quantifies the health impact of diseases, injuries, and risk factors considers the top public health factors in the United Kingdom to be tobacco, high fasting plasma glucose, high body mass index, high blood pressure, dietary risks, alcohol use and high cholesterol.

The following table shows the various estimates of the cost to the NHS of the five factors specified. Comparisons of costs should not be made between these estimates because of the different methodologies used in their construction.

Risk factor

Estimated NHS cost

Source of Estimate

Air Pollution

£1.6 billion for fine particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide combined between 2017 and 2025.

UK Health Security Agency, 2018


£3.5 billion annually

Public Health England, 2009/10


£6.5 billion annually

Frontier Economics, 2021

Hypertension (excessive salt consumption is linked to an increased risk of hypertension)

£2.1 billon annually

Department of Health and Social Care, 2014


£2.4 billion annually

Action on Smoking and Health, 2022

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