New report reveals Britain’s unhealthy high streets

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The health of UK high streets is declining due to a rise in bookmakers, fast-food outlets and other businesses which can have an adverse effect on people’s lives, says a new report.

The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) compiled a league table of 70 high streets in UK towns and cities outside London and ranked them according to the retail mix.

Those high streets considered unhealthy had more bookmakers, tanning salons, fast food establishments and payday lenders.

Healthier high streets had more museums, art galleries, leisure centres, health facilities and libraries, the RSPH report said.

Edinburgh led the healthy top ten, followed by Canterbury, Kent, and Taunton, Somerset whIle Grimsby was top of the unhealthy high street list ahead of Walsall and Blackpool.

The report said there is a link between unhealthy high streets and deprivation, but it included pubs and bars as healthy additions as they encourage social interaction.

With pubs closing at a record rate, the country’s 22,000 cafes and coffee shops are taking over as places to socialise, said the report.

As pubs close, fast-food outlets are booming, with an extra 4000 opening between 2014 and 2017, mostly in deprived areas.

The report’s authors say this contributes to rises in obesity, with customers often offered incentives to buy larger portions of food.

Bookmakers and payday lenders are also considered unhealthy due to the adverse impact debt has on people’s lives.

It says Britain’s high streets are increasingly dominated by cafes and coffee shops, convenience stores, off-licences, vape shops and empty premises.

The RSPH report, ‘Running on Empty’ is an update of a study carried out in 2015 and offers advice for local authorities and the public on making high streets healthier.

The 10 healthiest high streets:

  1. Edinburgh
  2. Canterbury
  3. Taunton
  4. Shrewsbury
  5. Cheltenham
  6. York
  7. Brighton & Hove
  8. Eastbourne
  9. Exeter
  10. Cambridge

The 10 unhealthiest high streets:

  1. Grimsby
  2. Walsall
  3. Blackpool
  4. Stoke-on-Trent
  5. Sunderland
  6. Northampton
  7. Bolton
  8. Wolverhampton
  9. Huddersfield
  10. Bradford

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