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London’s Soho ‘unhealthiest place to live in Britain’

Brits live as close to a pub as they do their nearest GP

Soho in London is the unhealthiest neighbourhood to live in Great Britain, according to an analysis of lifestyle and environmental measures by the University of Liverpool.

The researchers’ data resource tool analysed factors including levels of air pollution, access to amenities such as fast food outlets or pubs, and proximity to health services including GPs and parks/recreational spaces.

The study found that Soho had the greatest access to unhealthy opportunities such as takeaways, pubs and off licenses, combined with high levels of air pollution and low levels of parks and green spaces.

By contrast, the healthiest place to live was Great Torrington in North Devon. The small market town has low levels of pollution, good access to parks and green space, few retail outlets that may encourage poor health-related behaviours, and good access to health services.
All bar one of the other top 10 healthy places to live were located in Scotland. These included Lochwinnoch in Renfrewshire, Fauldhouse in West Lothian, Foxbar in Renfreshire and Marnoch in North Lanakrshire.

Six neighbourhoods in the top 10 unhealthiest places to live were located within inner London.

Dr Mark Green, Liverpool’s senior lecturer in health geography, who undertook the study, said the statistics reveal important insights about the concentration of certain amenities that may be damaging or promote health.

He pointed out that on average individuals in Britain are just as close to a pub or bar as they are to their nearest GP (1.1 km).

“We also found that 42% of people are within 1km (or a few minutes’ drive time) of their nearest gambling outlet. These statistics reveal troubling issues with the neighbourhoods we live in and how they may be damaging to our health,” he warned.

The study found rural areas have poorer access to many health services, while services which are seen as damaging to health are often concentrated in poorer areas.

For example, 62% of people who live in the 10% most deprived areas are within 1km of a fast food outlet compared to 24% in the 10% least deprived areas.