Independent report

Chief Medical Officer annual report: surveillance volume 2012

The Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Professor Dame Sally Davies's report on the state of the public's health.


In this report, the Chief Medical Officer, Prof Dame Sally Davies, looks at some of the big issues she identified in her last surveillance report. She has invited experts to examine these issues in detail and explore them further.

As well as presenting data and evidence, the CMO also comments on overarching trends. This year, information in the report suggests that we may need to rethink what is regarded as ‘normal’ in relation to our health and our society. For example, while some people drink more alcohol than is good for their health, many people drink very little or don’t drink at all. While many people think that cycling is dangerous because we hear of deaths on the road, cycling is usually a safe and healthy thing to do but the benefits of cycling don’t make the headlines.

Highlights from the report include:

  • Most adults in England are overweight or obese. As a society, we are in danger of ‘normalising’ being overweight, which is not good for our health. We should be striving to popularise healthy weight as ‘normal’.

  • There is very little good, national data on blindness and deafness, but it is important to have this because so many people are affected, and often live for many years with these conditions.

  • Active travel (walking and cycling) is good for our health, and more should be done to make it even safer, which will encourage more people to travel this way.

Not enough information is collected for some health issues, for example sensory impairment such as blindness and deafness. Where this is the case, the experts have tried to come up with novel ways of getting more information out of existing systems. For example, in the chapter on sensory impairment, the author, Professor Adrian Davis, has looked at GP patient survey data to find out more about deafness and blindness.