Britons at bottom of EU health tables

Britons are among the least healthy people in Europe, new research shows.

A new profile from the North East Public Health Observatory (NEPHO) compares the health of the UK and devolved nations against the rest of Europe for the first time.

It shows how the UK has some of the worst rates of obesity, cancer deaths and teenage pregnancy of all European countries.

The research found:

  • In the West Midlands, 29% of people are obese, the highest rate in Europe. By comparison, the worst region in Sweden has an obesity rate of 16%, and the highest for any region in Germany is 19%.
  • Female death rates from cancer are among the worst in Europe. The UK has 185.1 deaths per 100,000 per year compared to an EU median of 139.5.
  • Across the UK, teenage pregnancies are higher than most other European countries. Almost 3% of all births are to mothers under 18, compared to the EU median of 0.9%.
  • Infant and perinatal deaths are both higher in the UK than EU medians.

Professor John Wilkinson, director of the North East Public Health Observatory (NEPHO), said the profile could play an important role in the government’s aim to reduce health inequalities.

‘Councils will now be able to benchmark themselves effectively against Europe,’ he said.

‘The European profiles show how much more work we need to do. However, life expectancy figures for men and women in the UK are slightly better than for our EU counterparts, and our early action on smoking has had a very positive impact on health outcomes.’

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