Last updated: 3 August 2023

Next review: 3 August 2024

The 2023 JSNA core refresh presents a range of indicators which explore the health and wellbeing needs and experiences of the Waltham Forest population. Many of these indicators reinforce our existing understanding of these needs, while others reflect new or emerging trends. The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic can be seen across many indicators, and the data suggests that some indicators have not yet shown a return to their pre-pandemic position.  

Below is a high-level summary of some of the key findings of the JSNA, arranged by chapter.  

Life expectancy  

  • The COVID-19 pandemic had a marked impact on life expectancy in Waltham Forest. Male life expectancy fell by 2.2 years and female life expectancy fell by 2.6 years in 2020. Female life expectancy declined more in Waltham Forest than London and England. 

  • In 2020, male life expectancy in Waltham Forest fell below both the London and England averages for the first time since 2015. 

  • Despite a larger decline in female life expectancy in Waltham Forest during 2020, there remained a significant gap between male and female life expectancy, with women on average living 4.8 years longer than men. This gender gap is greater than seen across London and England.  

  • While male healthy life expectancy in Waltham Forest is broadly in line with London and England averages in recent years, the last decade has seen Waltham Forest’s female healthy life expectancy surpass the London and England averages, with women being expected to live 4.1 years more years in good health compared the England average.  

  • Both males and females in Waltham Forest can expect to live, on average, around 16 years, or about 20% of their lives in poor health.  


  • At the time of 2021 census, Waltham Forest had a population of 278,400, increasing by about 20,000 people since 2011. This rate of growth (7.8%) is comparable to growth rates seen across London as a whole.  

  • Waltham Forest is one of the most ethnically diverse local authorities in England, with 64% of the population being from ethnic groups other than White British or Irish.  

  • Around one in four of Waltham Forest’s residents were born outside of the UK, around half of whom have arrived from Europe. Around 11,000 residents were born in Pakistan, and a similar number in Romania; the number of residents from Romania has more than doubled since 2011. 

  • In Waltham Forest, 22% of residents speak a language other than English as their first language, with around 5% of residents not speaking English well, or at all.  

Wider determinants 

  • Waltham Forest has one of the highest proportions of children living in low-income families in north east London, with just over 10,000 children living in absolute poverty.  

  • In 2020, an estimated 16.4% of all households in Waltham Forest (approximately 17,075 households) were living in fuel poverty. This percentage was higher than the England average of 13.2% and the London average of 11.5%. 

  • In 2021 to 2022, 1,757 households in Waltham Forest were owed a duty under the Homelessness Reduction Act, equating to 16.9 households per 1,000, a rate above national and regional averages.  

Health improvement 

  • In the first year of normal data reporting following the COVID-19 pandemic, 21.0% of children in reception and 41.8% of children in year 6 in Waltham Forest were living with overweight or obesity.  

  • Just over half of adults in Waltham Forest are living with overweight or obesity. Less than a third of adults report meeting the national 5-a-day recommendation for fruit and vegetable intake.  

  • The estimated rate of smoking amongst adults in Waltham Forest has declined to 9%, but some population groups, including those in routine and manual employment, still have persistently higher rates.  

  • In 2021, males were much more likely to have a hospital admission for an alcohol-related condition, of 749 alcohol-related hospital admissions, 516 (69%) were males.   

Health protection 

  • In 2021, 6.6% of the annual deaths from all causes in those aged 30 and over were attributable to particulate air pollution; similar to the London average. 

  • Uptake of pre-school immunisations (including against measles, mumps and rubella) has continued to fall. Rates were below the London and England averages, and significantly below the 95% coverage needed to reduce the risk of local outbreaks of these diseases.  

  • Uptake of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination has also declined, with less than half of year 9 pupils having received the recommended two doses in the 2021 to 2022 academic year.  

  • Flu vaccination coverage in older adults and clinical risk groups is lower than London and England averages. 

  • In Waltham Forest, the STI testing and diagnosis rates are below the London average and have not yet recovered to pre-pandemic levels. 

  • Uptake of the primary COVID-19 vaccination programme and subsequent booster doses in Waltham Forest have consistently been below the London and England averages.  


  • Waltham Forest residents diagnosed with a serious mental illness (SMI) are 340% more likely to die before the age of 75 than those who do not have SMI. This was broadly in line with regional and national averages.  

  • Waltham Forest’s suicide rate was below London and England averages. There remains a significant difference in suicide rates between males and females, with more than 80% of suicide deaths in Waltham Forest being in men.  

  • There was a significant spike in the number of excess winter deaths during 2020 to 2021, with 65.5% additional deaths reported in the winter period in Waltham Forest. This figure is likely to have been significantly impacted by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on mortality.  

Long term conditions 

  • The proportion of adults with diagnosed diabetes has continued to gradually increase, with 7.1% of patients registered with a Waltham Forest GP having been diagnosed. Previous estimates suggest that as many as a third of diabetes cases in Waltham Forest may not be diagnosed.  

  • Waltham Forest had a slightly higher rate of diagnosed asthma than the London average, with nearly 15,500, or 5.2% people living with the condition. Waltham Forest also had a higher rate of asthma admission amongst children under 19 years of age compared to London and England averages.