In this special edition of The London Intelligence, we look at the health and wellbeing of Londoners. We find that London is in many ways a healthy place to live, but citizens’ health and longevity vary widely from place to place. The analysis looks at different health indicators including obesity, exercise and mental health.
Life spent in good health
Londoners spend a shorter proportion of life in good health than those in the surrounding regions (East Midlands, East of England, South West and South East). There are also sharp differences across the city. Men and women living in central and east London have some of the lowest life expectancies in the capital and spend a shorter period of life in good health.
More than half of London’s adult population is classed as overweight or obese – less than the national average. By contrast, a higher proportion of children are classed as overweight or obese in London than the national average. At the borough level, proportions of children classed as overweight or obese are the highest in east and north east London, whilst the picture is reversed in south west boroughs.
Adult Londoners may face fewer weight problems, but they’re not getting any more exercise than elsewhere in the country – and there has been no change in the last two years. But adults in east London are the least active, with fewer than half of Londoners in Newham, and Barking and Dagenham achieving the government recommended level of activity.
Public awareness around mental health has increased in recent years, with conversations about the importance of good mental health entering the mainstream. But recording its prevalence has not been consistent. Adults in London suffer from a higher prevalence of mental health issues than the English average. The limited data available suggest that London has the lowest rates of mental health issues among children.
Health services in London remain under pressure. Waiting times are growing across the NHS for both London and nationally. But financial pressures are growing too. The expected overspend for 2019/20 in north-west London has more than doubled in the last year, to a total of £112 million, which health chiefs say is due to spending on acute and continuing healthcare.