Welsh people want more done to prevent illness and improve their health - even if it means spending less on healthcare

53 per cent of people in Wales agree that more money should be spent on preventing illness and less on treating it. Only 15 per cent disagreed.

The national Stay Well in Wales survey, run by Public Health Wales and Bangor University, found that the Welsh public have a strong preference for more public health regulation and intervention.

Other key findings include:

  • 70 per cent agree that advertising of unhealthy foods to children should be banned to reduce childhood obesity. Only 13 per disagree.
  • Almost half (47 per cent) agree that advertising of alcohol should be banned to reduce alcohol problems. Only 26 per cent disagree.
  • 82 per cent agree that healthy foods should cost a bit less and unhealthy foods a bit more. Only 6 per cent disagree.

The Stay Well in Wales survey was created to identify what the Welsh public believe to be the biggest contributors to poor health and well-being, and which public health actions they would like to see implemented.

The public highlighted smoking, drug abuse, alcohol misuse, physical inactivity and unhealthy eating habits as the top five contributors to poor health and well-being in Wales; although other issues such as social isolation, poor parenting and difficulties with healthcare access were also rated highly by more than half of the public.

Professor Mark Bellis, Director of Policy, Research and International Development for Public Health Wales, said:

"The survey has identified a general public who understand the causes of ill health in their communities and agree that prevention is better than cure.

“Evidence tells us that stronger public health regulations and interventions will create a healthier, happier and fairer society. We are delighted that the people of Wales recognise these benefits and the vast majority favour more measures to protect their own health and that of their families and friends.

“We are one of the first nations in the world to ask the public what measures they feel are necessary for them to live healthier lives. We will use this rich source of information to develop our own work plans for the next decade and to help the Welsh Government develop the public health policies people want.”  

Chief Medical Officer for Wales Frank Atherton said:

“This is a very interesting survey which shows there is a strong awareness in Wales of public health issues. It also demonstrates a clear appetitie for public health interventions to help create a healthier Wales. The findings will help inform and develop Welsh Government policies in the future.”

Lead author, Dr Catherine Sharp, School of Healthcare Sciences, Bangor University said:

“Over recent years, research across Wales has examined what measures can improve the health and well-being of children. This survey shows the strong support that the Welsh public has for such measures that support safe and loving childhood at home, allow schools to help children live healthier lives, and restrict advertising of unhealthy foods to children to prevent obesity.”

The survey also found strong support for other specific actions to improve public health, including:

  • 76 per cent agree that employers should do more to look after their workers’ health. Only 8 per cent disagree.
  • 88 per cent agree that schools should teach children more about how to live a healthy life. Only 5 per cent disagree.
  • Around three quarters (76%) support 20mph speed limits where they will reduce road traffic injuries. Only 12 per cent disagree.

Stay Well in Wales is a nationally representative survey delivered through a 15-minute questionnaire, administered at people’s homes by face-to-face interviews. Participants were aged 16 years and over and resident in areas from all over Wales randomly selected to form a representative sample of the whole population. Data were collected between September and October 2017. A final sample of 1,001 individuals in Wales completed the household survey.

Public Health Wales also undertook an online survey which was open to all Welsh residents (aged 16 years and over) and results from this will be available later in 2018.

Publication date: 16 February 2018