People in richer areas are living 10 years longer

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A ‘scandalous’ health and wealth divide in Sheffield means people in poorer areas are living around a decade less than people in wealthier parts of the city, a leading health expert has said.

People in poorer areas are leading shorter lives plagued by health issues such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and obesity – and the divide has been worsened by the recession, says Jeremy Wight, the city’s director of public health.

Whirlow Lane, Whirlow

Whirlow Lane, Whirlow

He said: “Poverty is the single biggest cause of health inequality in the city.

“Health inequalities will continue to exist as long as we have socio-economic inequalities.

“If you look at the parts of the city that are more disadvantaged in socio-economic terms, such as the north and east of Sheffield, people there have a life expectancy of eight to 10 years less than people who live in the better off parts such as the south and west of Sheffield.

“It’s pretty scandalous.”

Dr Wight added: “We have seen the recession, and policy that hits people on social security hard.

“I have no doubt that that has made people in the city less well off.

“There are aspects of Government policy that have not made the situation better, that have made the health divide worse.

“Making people poorer is bad for their health.”

Sheffield Council’s new Health Inequalities Plan aims to introduce a range of measures aimed at closing the gap.

It says: “Inequalities in health in Sheffield have been well documented for over a century. They are significant and persistent, in spite of much good work that has been done to address them.

“The roots of health inequalities lie in the unequal nature of society, and they will persist as long as society remains unequal.

“But that does not mean we cannot do anything about them.”