Early death "twice as likely" in most depressed areas of England

Early mortality rates are twice as high in Britain's most deprived areas as compared to the most prosperous areas, according to a new study published in The Lancet.

Early mortality rates for all causes were more than twice as high in the area with most disadvantaged local authorities in England (Blackpool), compared to the most affluent (Wokingham, Surrey, Windsor and Maidenhead and West Berkshire).

While overall rates of premature death have improved since 1990, half of all premature deaths in 2016 are linked to risk factors such as tobacco use, unhealthy diet, alcohol and drug use, obesity and high blood pressure.

Researchers found that ischemic heart disease was the leading cause of premature death in the United Kingdom in 2016 and rates were twice as high in males than in women. Self-trauma was the third leading cause of premature death for men.

Professor Nicholas Steel, the lead author of the study, said: "As mortality rates are declining, people continue to live in long-term, often multiple, conditions. Our findings show a significant shift from mortality to morbidity, but our health services are still being designed to deal with the major killers. Today, conditions such as back and neck pain, anxiety and depression are huge causes of disability in the UK.

Early mortality rates were consistently higher for the UK's 15 most degraded regions, compared with 15 fewer individuals, and the relationship with deprivation was particularly strong for lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

There have been some surprising results from the study. For example, Birmingham and some areas of London (eg Tower Hamlets and Hackney) were better than UTLAs with similar levels of deprivation in Liverpool and Manchester. The authors argue that the relatively better health seen in London may be due to lower levels of risk factors, such as smoking and poor nutrition. better access to health care; higher educational performance; or selective movement of patients outside London and the healthiest people in London for work.