Soho is UK’s unhealthiest neighbourhood, study finds

Six of the top ten unhealthiest neighbourhoods are in London

Harriet Hall
Monday 01 July 2019 17:46 BST

Offering some of the best food in the capital city, dynamic nightlife and an array of weird and wonderful shops, London’s Soho might be a star tourist attraction – but it is also the UK’s unhealthiest place to live, claim researchers.

Soho has a dearth of green space and a high level of air pollution along with easy access to pubs, takeaway shops and off licences.

Working alongside the Consumer Data Research Centre and Public Health England, researchers at the University of Liverpool analysed a range of lifestyle and environmental measures including air pollution, access to amenities – such as restaurants and pubs – proximity to doctor’s surgeries and amount of green space to assess which of Britain’s neighbourhoods are the healthiest.

The market town of Great Torrington in Devon came out on top as the healthiest area, thanks to its abundance of green space, low pollution levels, access to good health services and low number of junk food outlets.

Nine out of the top 10 healthiest places in the UK to live were located in Scotland, including Lochwinnoch in Renfrewshire; Fauldhouse in West Lothian; Foxbar in Renfrewshire; and Marnoch in North Lanarkshire.

London, however, is home to six of the top 10 unhealthiest neighbourhoods; which include Farringdon, Finsbury and Barbican.

The research found that the most deprived areas offered the highest concentration of fast food outlets, with 62 per cent of people living in the poorest areas living just one kilometre from a fast food restaurant, compared with 24 per cent of those living in the least deprived areas.

The researchers also found that rural areas had the poorest access to health services and that 42 per cent of people in the UK live within just one kilometre of a betting shop.

Aerial view of Taddiport near Torrington in Devon
Aerial view of Taddiport near Torrington in Devon (iStock)

“These statistics reveal troubling issues with the neighbourhoods we live in and how they may be damaging to our health,” says lead researcher Dr Mark Green.

“The statistics reveal important insights about the concentration of certain amenities that may be damaging or promote health. For example, on average, individuals in Great Britain are just as close to a pub or bar as they are to their nearest GP (1.1 km)”, he says.

The findings are presented alongside an interactive map which residents can use to determine the healthiness of their neighbourhood.

UK's 10 Unhealthiest Neighbourhoods

  1. Soho, Westminster
  2. North Killingholme, Lincolnshire
  3. Shotley Gate, Suffolk
  4. St Giles, Camden
  5. Bank, City of London
  6. Spitalfields, Tower Hamlets
  7. Farringdon, Islington
  8. Ottringham, East Riding
  9. Finsbury, Islington
  10. Barbican, City of London

UK's 10 Healthiest Neighbourhoods

  1. Great Torrington, Devon
  2. Lochwinnoch, Renfrewshire
  3. Fauldhouse, West Lothian
  4. Foxbar, Renfrewshire
  5. Marnoch, North Lanarkshire
  6. Ryton, Gateshead
  7. Ballingry, Fife
  8. Coupar Angus, Perth and Kinross
  9. Kinghorn, Fife
  10. Kilsyth Bogside, North Lanarkshire

“We anticipate that this resource will be an important tool for citizens and policy makers alike interested in how their neighbourhoods may be associated to their health,” says Dr Green.

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