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North–South health divide

A clear North–South divide still exists in terms of health and life expectancy, new Government figures show.

The Health Profile of England details 30 health indicators ranging from early deaths from cancer to drug misuse for 386 local authorities.

Despite attempts to reduce inequalities, rates of smoking-related deaths and obesity are higher in the north of the

country.

On average, women in northern England live one year less than those in the South. Men in the North have a life expectancy two years shorter.

Adult obesity in the UK was one of the highest in Europe.

Public health experts said clinicians and PCTs could use the searchable web data, found at www.communityhealthprofiles.info, to help guide local commissioning decisions.

Dr Tim Crayford, president of the Association of Directors of Public Health, said until now there had been no standard way of recording the information.

He said: 'This will help local health economies prioritise spending in public health.'

Professor Rod Griffiths, director of the Faculty of Public Health, said the maps were useful but that they had to be matched with action.

He said: 'We need the infrastructure to allow people to make healthy choices. The Connecting for Health money has been nicked by the acute sector.'

The public health gap: how bad is your area?

Fattest Yorkshire and Humber (men) and West Midlands (women): more than 24.5 per cent obese compared with the national average of 22.2 per cent.

Slimmest London and the South-East (men) and South-West (women) are below average with fewer than 21.5 per cent obese.

SMOKING

Worst Yorkshire and Humber, the North-East and North-West:

smoking-related deaths of more than 127 per 100,000 people

Best South-East, South-West

and East of England have smoking related deaths at fewer than

120 per 100,000 people a year

LIFE EXPECTANCY

Shortest North-West, North-East and pockets of London: under 75.5 years for men and 80.2 for women

Longest South, South-West and South-East (excluding London): men averaging beyond 77.5 years and women 81.7 years

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