Unhealthiest places to live are concentrated in LondonBMJ 2019; 366 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.l4480 (Published 01 July 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;366:l4480
All rapid responses
The researchers have highlighted lifestyle and environmental factors which make a neighbourhood unhealthy, such as fast food outlets and lack of green spaces. We argue that unhealthy neighbourhoods do not necessarily equate to lower life expectancy, and suggest that exploration of the reasons for this disparity would be beneficial.
The ONS have found that London has amongst the highest life expectancy in the UK, yet 6 out of 10 of the unhealthiest neighbourhoods are in London. Furthermore, the borough of Camden has the highest life expectancy for women in the whole of the UK despite St Giles in Camden being one of the top 10 unhealthiest places to live. This disparity could suggest that the local population do not necessarily engage with the unhealthy services even though they have the most access to them. A similar argument can be made for the neighbourhoods deemed the healthiest by the researchers, with Refrewshire and North Lanarkshire both having amongst the lowest life expectancy in the UK despite the study suggesting they are in the top 10 healthiest neighbourhoods. It would be interesting to ascertain what the engagement with such services is by the local population, as access to and engagement with are distinctly different.
The postcode inequality study in London has revealed a 10-year life expectancy gap between neighbouring London streets, highlighting that even between neighbourhoods, there is a stark difference in long-term health. The data provided by the researchers revealing ‘unhealthy opportunities’ in these areas may help explain this inequality and be a target for future planning to make areas healthier. However, firstly investigating use of these ‘unhealthy opportunities’ would be more pertinent as this would help us understand the mind of the consumer.
1. Iacobucci G. Unhealthiest places to live are concentrated in London. BMJ. 2019;:l4480.
2. Health state life expectancies, UK - Office for National Statistics [Internet]. Ons.gov.uk. 2019. Available from: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/...
3. Revealed: 10-year life expectancy gap between London streets [Internet]. Evening Standard. 2019. Available from: https://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/10year-life-expectancy-gap-betwee...
Competing interests: No competing interests