If you live in Glasgow, you are more likely to die young. Men there die a full seven years earlier than their counterparts in other UK cities. Until recently, the causes of this excess mortality remained a mystery.
“Deep-fried Mars bars,” some have speculated. “The weather,” others suggested. For years, those reasons were as good as any. In 2012, The Economist described it thus: “It is as if a malign vapour rises from the Clyde at night and settles in the lungs of sleeping Glaswegians.”
The phenomenon has become known as the Glasgow effect. But David Walsh, a public health programme manager at the Glasgow Centre for Population Health, who led a study on the excess deaths in 2010, wasn’t satisfied with how the term was being used. “It turned into a Scooby-Doo mystery but it’s not an exciting thing. It’s about people dying young, it’s about grief.”
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