The north-south divide in health has been graphically illustrated in a new publication from the Department of Health.
The Health Profile of England brings together national and regional data from the six priority areas identified by the Department in Choosing health: tackling health inequalities; reducing smoking; reducing obesity; improving sexual health; improving mental wellbeing; and reducing harm and encouraging sensible drinking. The Department hopes the data will 'provide a yardstick against which people can compare data from their own local health profile'.
There is a consistent 'north/south' divide, with poorer health in the north of England in comparison with the south in almost all cases. The proportion of the population living within the most deprived 20% of areas in England is over seven times greater in the North East than in the South East.
There is a distinct 'north/south' divide for life expectancy at birth. For men in the north, life expectancy at birth is around two years shorter than for men in the south.
The proportion of people who consider themselves to be in 'poor health' has increased since the mid-1990s. The proportion of men in the North East who assess their health as 'not good' is approaching double that in the South East.
Obesity is a national problem not a regional one. 'There is not a strong and consistent pattern of obesity across the regions,' the reports saus. However, the proportion of obese children rose by over 40% between 1995 and 2004. In the decade ending 2004, the proportion of obese men rose by over 50%, whilst the proportion of obese women rose by 36%. In 2004, almost a quarter of the adult population was obese.
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