Britain’s unhealthiest high streets have been revealed by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) – with Grimsby coming out at the bottom.
The RSPH ranked 70 of Britain’s major towns and cities by the impact of their high streets on the public’s health and wellbeing, taking into account the number of fast food shops, vape shops and off-licences.
The league table revealed Edinburgh has the healthiest high street, followed by Canterbury and Taunton, while Grimsby, Walsall and Blackpool were found to have the least healthy high streets.
Average life expectancy for people living in areas with the healthiest high streets is two and a half years longer than for those in the unhealthiest ranked areas.
The most deprived areas now have five times more fast food shops than the most affluent areas. And, in fact, the number of fast food shops overall grew by 4,000 between 2014 and 2017, while the number of vape shops has doubled from 1,000 to 2,000 in the past three years.
Britain’s Unhealthiest High Streets
Britain’s Healthiest High Streets
7. Brighton & Hove
RSPH has called for a range of measures to make British high streets healthier. It wants the Treasury to review how business taxes are determined to ensure high street shops are not put at an unfair disadvantage compared to online retailers.
A poll found three quarters (75 per cent) believe that business rates should not put high street retailers at an unfair advantage compared to online.
It also wants businesses like Facebook and Google to provide discounted advertising opportunities to independent health-promoting businesses, and for local authorities to make records on vacant commercial properties publicly accessible.
All vape shops should be made to ensure customers who smoke are aware of their local stop smoking service, they added.
Dr Max Davie, Officer for Health Promotion for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), said the results are “hardly surprising”, as the high streets listed as the unhealthiest suffer with high levels of poverty.
“This blights lives in a number of ways – it increases risk of poor mental health, of obesity and it unfairly cuts lives short,” he said.
He urged the government to act: “Families must have access to nutritious and affordable food so councils need to ensure high streets are not littered with junk food – especially those close to schools and colleges. They must also ensure there are safe spaces for families to be active.”