Close button
The Guardian
Email YouTube Facebook Instagram Twitter WhatsApp

How living in deprived neighbourhood raises early death risk



*Condition encourages obesity, drinking too much alcohol, smoking, other unhealthy lifestyles, scientists confirm

People that live in a poor neighbourhood face a higher risk of ill health and early death, scientists say.

And the longer the person stays stuck in a deprived area, the more likely they are to suffer the health consequences.

Researchers analysed a host of studies for the first systematic review of the evidence between deprivation and poor health. They found the most common poor health outcome for people in poor regions was a premature death, followed by obesity, excess drinking and suicide.


The findings come just days after Jaywick, a town in Essex, was named as the most deprived neighbourhood in England for the third time.

The study, led by University College London, is the first to collect data on the effects of the neighbourhood over the course of a lifetime.

Poor mental health was found to affect those in deprived neighbourhoods in 10 per cent of studies, according to the findings published in the European Journal of Public Health.

Lead author Dr Stephen Jivraj said: “The link between where you live and your health and well-being has been one of the most widely tested hypotheses in the field of health geography for 20 years.

“Our study reviews data collected over time and shows the negative health effects of living in a deprived area increase as people get older. We suspect this cumulative effect occurs because it gets harder to move to a less deprived neighbourhood, the older you get.”

The review of 53 studies includes data from countries including the US, UK, Finland, Japan, Sweden and New Zealand.

People who live in the most deprived areas in England can expect to have two or more health conditions at 61 years, which is 10 years earlier than people in the least deprived areas, according to research carried out by the Health Foundation in 2018.


They found almost a third (30 per cent) of people with four or more conditions are under 65 and this percentage is higher for people living in socioeconomically deprived areas.

It suggests that living with multiple conditions affects a broad range of people and is not always related to old age.

The analysis found approximately 14.2million people have two or more conditions, costing the NHS a staggering amount of money.

The figure represents nearly a quarter (24 per cent) of all adults living in England. Over half (55 per cent) of hospital admissions and outpatient visits and three quarters (75 per cent) of primary care prescriptions are for people living with two or more conditions.

The number of people living with multiple conditions is expected to continue to grow.

Sarah Deeny, assistant director of Data Analytics at the Health Foundation said: “People’s health is a result of a wide range of social determinants including their quality of housing and education, where they live, access to good quality work and affordable food.”

Of those studies, 18 per cent found that premature death was the most common poor health outcome recorded for those living in a deprived neighbourhood.

Some 16 per cent of the studies found participants in deprived areas were more likely to be obese or have a high body mass index, followed by the 15 per cent, which found increased rates of smoking, drinking alcohol and eating unhealthily.

Some of the studies looked at the relationship between neighbourhood and health over a period of time of at least 15 years. They found cumulative exposure to neighbourhood deprivation predicts the onset and deterioration of poor health.

The authors wrote: “The weight of evidence suggests neighbourhood effects accumulate over the life course when exposure to a poor socioeconomic context is sustained. This is the case for outcomes of adolescent parenthood, chronic conditions, disability, smoking, BMI, mortality and physical function.”

The researchers believe the effects can be reversed if a person moves away from a deprived neighbourhood as a child. There is a small amount of evidence that suggests the neighbourhood you live in at the age of 30 will impact life in middle age.

The Health Foundation said there is a multitude of factors that link deprived neighbourhoods and poor health, but these were not investigated in the research.

Receive News Alerts on Whatsapp: +2348136370421

No comments yet