Bristol UK Healthy City



Bristol has a population of 441,300 and is the largest city in the South West. Bristol has vibrant digital and cultural industries as well as strong banking, insurance and knowledge-based sectors, all of which are important contributors to Bristol’s economy. The city has two universities and graduates often choose to stay in the city to live and work. Bristol has higher employment levels than other major cities but also higher housing costs. Bristol’s population is growing, particularly amongst those of working age, and the city has more children under 16 than residents of pensionable age. Although Bristol has one of the highest per capita GDP in the country outside London, it also has significant areas of deprivation. 14% of the population live in areas amongst the 10% most deprived in the country, with some amongst the 1% most deprived. It is estimated that 13.5% of Bristol’s population are from Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) groups and 5% are from Eastern Europe.

Health & Wellbeing in Bristol

  • Life expectancy for both men and women continues to rise but remains below the England average.  Life expectancy is 9.4 years lower in the most deprived areas of Bristol compared to the most affluent.
  • About one in four of reception year children are overweight or obese. Bristol children take less physical exercise than the national and regional average.
  • About half of Bristol adults eat 5 a day fruit and vegetables. Only one in four school age children report eating 5 a day and one in ten eat none.
  • About 22,000 children in Bristol live in poverty, the highest rate in the South West.
  • Around 30,000 people (8% of adults) have one or more mental health condition.
  • GCSE attainment by Bristol children is improving but below the England average.
  • Bristol has high levels of drug misuse but well-regarded treatment services.

Key achievements

  • The European Commission has recognised Bristol’s success in creating a green city with a high quality of life by naming it European Green Capital 2015 (). Bristol is the first UK winner of this award (
  • Bristol was the UK’s first Cycling City. As a result, cycling rates have increased, over 40 miles of new cycle paths have been created and another 140 miles have been improved.(
  • Bristol was the first UK city to be designated by UNICEF as Baby Friendly. Bristol’s breastfeeding rates are the highest amongst the core cities. ( )
  • Bristol Food Policy Council was set up in 2011. ( of its responsibilities is to act on the recommendations of the Who Feeds Bristol?’ report (March 2011) which explores the strengths and vulnerabilities in the current food system that serves Bristol and the city region ( )
  • Bristol City Council and NHS Bristol signed a development management protocol in May 2011. For more information, contact Stephen Hewitt ()


Bristol’s Healthy City Story

Bristol became a member of Healthy Cities in 2011. Bristol has shown more resilience to rising unemployment than other major cities. However, income reduction is hitting some parts of the city hard, particularly those where levels of worklessness, low pay and child poverty are already high. Tackling these issues are challenges which all Healthy Cities face and where shared thinking will be beneficial.

Future plans and activities

Maximising the opportunities presented by the development of Bristol’s Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone.

Putting the wider determinants of health at the centre of Bristol’s Health and Wellbeing Strategy and the work of the Health and Wellbeing Board.

Developing the methodology and expanding the use of health impact assessments for planning proposals.

Working closely with centres of public health expertise in local universities, including the establishment of the Bristol Health Partnership.

Member comment

"Healthy Cities provides a network to share good practice and explore common challenges. The core principles underpinning the Healthy Cities movement have never been more important than during this period of unprecedented change."
Cllr Jon Rogers, Executive Member for Care and Health, Bristol City Council

The UK Healthy Cities Network is an accredited member of the WHO European Healthy Cities Programme

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