In Brief

Britain’s unhealthiest high streets revealed

New report says towns filled with bookies and fast-food outlets are cutting residents’ lifespans

British high streets packed with bookmakers, payday lenders and fast-food outlets may be slashing years off the life expectancy of locals, according to new research.  

The  Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) ranked high streets in 70 major UK towns and cities based on the healthiness of shops and businesses. Those deemed unhealthy also included tanning salons and and off-licences, while those considered healthy included  libraries, pharmacies, dentists, opticians and leisure centres.

Perhaps surprisingly, coffee shops, pubs and restaurants were scored as positive for residents, as “centres for social interaction”.

The Lincolnshire town of Grimsby topped the unhealthy high streets list, followed by Walsall and Blackpool, while Edinburgh, Canterbury and Taunton were the healthiest, says the BBC.

According to the RSPH report, average life expectancy for people living near the top ten healthiest high streets is two-and-a-half years longer than those in the ten unhealthiest.

The league table excluded London’s high streets, which were ranked separately, with Haringey’s West Green Road in Seven Sisters coming out as the worst, adds The Guardian. Muswell Hill, also in Haringey, was judged the healthiest.

The RSPH makes several recommendations for high streets to become healthier, including “business rates relief for businesses that try to improve the public’s health”.

The charity’s chief executive, Shirley Cramer, told the BBC: “Reshaping these high streets to be more health-promoting could serve as a tool to help redress this imbalance.”  

The ten unhealthiest UK high streets are:

  1. Grimsby
  2. Walsall
  3. Blackpool
  4. Stoke-On-Trent
  5. Sunderland
  6. Northampton
  7. Bolton
  8. Wolverhampton
  9. Huddersfield
  10. Bradford

The ten healthiest high streets are:

  1. Edinburgh
  2. Canterbury
  3. Taunton
  4. Shrewsbury
  5. Cheltenham
  6. York
  7. Brighton and Hove
  8. Eastbourne
  9. Exeter
  10. Cambridge

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