It is well documented that people living in more deprived areas live shorter and unhealthier lives. The Marmot Review reported that average life expectancy in England is seven years lower in the poorest areas compared to the richest communities and disability-free life expectancy is 17 years lower. 3

Figure 2 below shows associations between area deprivation and childhood obesity, smoking, physical activity and diet.  These indicators are shown because they are all linked to poverty or socio-economic disadvantage.  Importantly, Marmot identified a gradient in health, whereby health improves incrementally as socio-economic circumstances improve – i.e. it is not just a matter of the poor being sick and the rich being healthy.

Figure 2: Associations between deprivation and key public health indicators

Childhood obesity, smoking, physical activity, and diet are associated with deprivation.
Figure 2: Associations between deprivation and key public health indicators

The degree of income (or wealth) inequality that exists in a society also appears to have an influence on population health and wellbeing. The more unequal a society is, the greater the health problems experienced by rich and poor alike, regardless of individual socio-economic position.  Research has shown that more unequal societies have lower average life expectancy, higher rates of infant mortality and greater prevalence of mental illness than countries where inequalities are less pronounced (regardless of average levels of wealth). 4

 

References

  1. The Marmot Review, “‘Fair Society Healthy Lives’ (The Marmot Review),” 2010.
  2. R. Wilkinson and K. Pickett, The Spirit Level – Why Equality is Better for Everyone, 2009
  3. The Marmot Review, “‘Fair Society Healthy Lives’ (The Marmot Review),” 2010.
  4. R. Wilkinson and K. Pickett, The Spirit Level – Why Equality is Better for Everyone, 2009