The healthiest people in the UK speak English "proficiently" as a second language

Sarah Spickernell
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Those who speak English well as their second or third language are the healthiest (Source: Getty)
In England and Wales, the healthiest people are the ones who have a firm grasp of English but don't speak it as their first language, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Using data from the 2011 census, they compared ability to speak English with the proportion of people falling into the “good health” bracket versus “poor health” bracket.
Overall, they found a third of the one million residents who spoke no English or had a very poor grasp of it were in a state of poor health. By comparison, just under one in five good English speakers fell into this category.
They determined the healthiest people were those “proficient” at English, but who did not speak it as their main language – these made up eight per cent of the total population, while 88.3 per cent were in “good health”.
Among those who spoke English as their main language, 80.3 per cent were reported as being healthy.

The report suggests the correlation stems from the difficulty non-English speakers face in accessing suitable healthcare, which has a long-term impact on health. A more rapid age-related decline in health was also observed among those unable to speak English.

Where are the non-English speakers?

For most local authorities in England and Wales, less than one per cent of the population is unable to speak English.
For some areas of London, however, the proportion was much higher. In Tower Hamlets, Newham, Brent and Tower Hamlets, between eight and nine per cent of the population is unable to speak English well or at all.

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