Britain’s unhealthiest high streets named and shamed

Grimsby has topped a study of the 10 unhealthiest high streets in the country, according to new research by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH).

The RSPH has today published a league table, which rates 70 of Britain’s major towns and cities by the impact of their high streets on the public’s health and wellbeing.

According to the study, Grimsby, Walsall and Blackpool are the three unhealthiest high streets in the country.

While Edinburgh, Canterbury and Taunton are ranked as the three healthiest.

The report also claims the average life expectancy for people living in areas with the top 10 healthiest high streets is two and a half years longer than for those in the 10 unhealthiest ranked areas.

It adds number of fast food shops by 4,000 between 2014 and 2017, especially in the most deprived areas, which now have five times more fast food shops than the most affluent areas.

And it claims the number of vape shops has doubled from 1,000 to 2,000 in the past three years.

‘While the face of the British high street continues to change, the environmental and economic factors that influence inequalities in health outcomes across the country remain stubbornly intractable,’ said RSPH chief executive, Shirley Cramer.

‘Our Health on the High Street rankings illustrate how unhealthy businesses concentrate in areas which already experience higher levels of deprivation, obesity and lower life expectancy. Reshaping these high streets to be more health-promoting could serve as a tool to help redress this imbalance.

‘While we broadly welcome the package of measures announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer this week, we are concerned that they do not go far enough.

‘Local authorities, who are well placed to make changes, are currently operating with one hand tied behind their backs due to ongoing funding cuts, particularly in some of the more deprived areas that feature prominently in these rankings.

‘Many local authorities are doing good work with the resources they have, but they need to be backed, both financially and with enhanced powers, by central Government if they are to succeed in reshaping high streets for the better,’ added Ms Cramer.

Welcoming the report, Michael Chang, project and policy manager at the Town and Country Planning Association, said: ‘We shouldn’t underestimate how important the British high street is to everybody’s daily lives and important contributing role town planners and the planning system have to effect change to healthier high streets.

‘The recommendations highlight the need for greater policy clarity from Government departments so local authorities are able to take more effective action against unhealthy retail outlets. The TCPA welcomes this report and its contribution to ongoing efforts by planners and public health professionals to improve the nation’s health and wellbeing.’

The new RSPH report – Health on the High Street: Running on empty – is available to read here.


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