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Chelsea tops public health league

Published 19/05/2015

Professor Clare Bambra found that people living in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea had the best health statistics of the Premier League teams
Professor Clare Bambra found that people living in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea had the best health statistics of the Premier League teams

Chelsea, a s well as lifting the Premier League trophy, have won an alternative championship based on health statistics - but three of the country's biggest clubs, Manchester City, Everton and Liverpool, would be relegated.

Analysis of public health figures of the areas around the 20 Premier League teams show a clear North-South divide, with only one team from the North in the top half of the health league - Manchester United.

Professor Clare Bambra drew on the famous Bill Shankly quote about football being more important than life and death, and studied figures from each local authority around the clubs' grounds.

The director of Durham University's Centre for Health and Inequalities Research then ranked them for factors such as smoking rates, obesity, alcohol-related hospital admissions and life expectancy.

She found that people living in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea - although Stamford Bridge is in Hammersmith and Fulham - had the best health statistics of the Premier League teams. Also in the top four were Crystal Palace, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur.

Chelsea's figures showed men and women living there would be expected to live seven and six years longer than their counterparts living near Manchester City.

Joint bottom of the table were Liverpool and Everton - deemed to have identical records as the clubs are situated half a mile apart and are in the same local authority.

Manchester United, based in Trafford, showed a much better health record than its "noisy neighbours" four miles across town in east Manchester.

Men and women living near Old Trafford are expected to live four years longer than people close to the Etihad, according to the academic.

Child poverty rates are as high as 34% in the area around Manchester City's ground compared with 14% for Trafford.

Prof Bambra said: "Based on the famous quote from Bill Shankly when he said that football was more than a matter of life and death, I felt that using football terms might be a useful way of highlighting health inequalities in our country.

"I think the league table shows some quite stark results in terms of health and particularly in terms of the North-South divide.

"We have only one northern club making it into the top half of the country."

And like a worried billionaire owner whose club is struggling at the bottom of the Premier League, we need to invest if we want to see improvements in deprived areas, the academic said.

Prof Bambra said: "I think there are parallels with football teams in the sense that Manchester City used to be in the relegation zone quite often, and now they are in the Champions League places.

"That is because they invested a lot in people, in the infrastructure, in their players.

"If we put that across to public health, then we need the Government and local authorities to invest in these places, not to make more cuts."

Football clubs have traditionally been based in poor, inner-city areas and only the top four in Prof Bambra's league would avoid being below the national average for at least one of the major health indicators.

She added: "As the recent Due North report has shown, important steps to prevent the situation from getting any worse include a decent living wage, improving the quality and affordability of housing, providing high quality early years education and childcare, devolution of power to local communities, and promoting good sustainable employment.

"The £12 billion cuts to the welfare budget that the new Government has planned will only make matters worse."

She used the traditional league abbreviations to rank:

:: P (Played) - Percentage of smokers

:: W (Won) - Weight - percentage of obesity and overweight

:: D (Drawn) - Deaths - all cause mortality rates per 100,000 people

:: L (Lost) - Life expectancy for males in years

:: F (For) - Female life expectancy in years

:: A (Against) - Alcohol-related hospital admissions per 100,000 people

:: GD (Goal Difference) - Gap or Difference in life expectancy for men between the most and least deprived areas of the local authority in years

:: Pts (Points)* - Points representing the sum of ranks for each health indicator

The data was taken from Public Health England Outcomes Framework Data, the Office for National Statistics and the Public Health Observatory Wales.

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