Sunderland has been named the fifth unhealthiest town or city in Britain by a high street health report.
Research by the Royal Society for Public Health (RPSPH) found residents living in towns where high streets are packed with bookies and off-licences die younger than those with more pharmacies and libraries.
Those in the 10 least healthy towns had average lifespans two-and-a-half years shorter than people living in the top 10.
The Health on the High Street: Running on Empty report scaled high streets, giving points for dentists, opticians, libraries, leisure centres, museums, galleries, pharmacies, coffee shops, pubs and – for the first time – vape shops.
Points were deducted for fast food takeaways, off-licences, tanning shops, bookmakers, and empty retail units.
Edinburgh was named the healthiest area.
Sunderland was ranked fifth in the top 10 unhealthy towns, with Middlesbrough 18th out of 70.
Newcastle was ranked 43 out of the 70 large towns and cities outside of London. The capital’s high streets were rated in a separate list.
The list was first published in 2015 and was updated this year to reflect the changing face of the British high street.
Deprived areas now have five times more fast food shops than wealthy neighbourhoods, the RSPH said.
Shirley Cramer CBE, chief executive of the RSPH, said: “While the face of the British high street continues to change, the environmental and economic factors that influence inequalities in health outcomes across the country remain stubbornly intractable.
“Our Health on the High Street rankings illustrate how unhealthy businesses concentrate in areas which already experience higher levels of deprivation, obesity and lower life expectancy.
“Reshaping these high streets to be more health-promoting could serve as a tool to help redress this imbalance.”
The Chancellor’s autumn budget introduced measures aimed at boosting high street shops to help them compete with online giants.
Philip Hammond announced that 500,000 small retailers will see a third knocked off their business rates, while a digital services tax will be levied at tech giants with global revenues above £500 million.
A £650 million fund was also announced to improve transport access for struggling town centres and to turn empty shops into homes and offices.
Ms Cramer added: “While we broadly welcome the package of measures announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer this week, we are concerned that they do not go far enough.”
Source : Chroniclelive