European health study identifies key priorities

Researchers have announced the results of the largest ever health and lifestyle survey of cities and conurbations across Europe.

The pan-European study, led in the UK by the Universities of Manchester and Liverpool, identified key priority areas for each city studied that the researchers hope policymakers will address.

In Greater Manchester and Merseyside depression and anxiety were identified as problem areas, along with cancer and respiratory disease - both of which were higher in these conurbations than the average of the study.

Obesity among Manchester and Liverpool's populations was also higher than the average of those cities studied, as was heavy drinking among the population's youth and binge drinking among adults.

It wasn't all bad news for Manchester though: Mancunians ate considerably more fruit and vegetables than the average city. They had more green spaces to enjoy, and ate breakfast more frequently than their European counterparts.

Liverpudlians smoked less than the European average but had a lower-than-average perception of their own wellbeing.

Project coordinator Dr Arpana Verma, from The University of Manchester, said: "The gap between the rich and poor living in urban areas across the world is widening.

"The urban poor are now worse off than the rural poor. Health inequalities are a greater issue than ever before and it's becoming increasingly important for policymakers to take the valuable information that we have to offer and translate into policies that can help improve our health.

"The European Urban Health Conference highlights these disparities and demonstrated effective tools that policymakers can use to improve health for all.

"Comparison within cities and between cities is becoming an area of interest to researchers, policymakers and the populations they serve. We will shortly launch our website with our preliminary results, including the differences we have seen.

"By highlighting these differences, we can learn from each other to make our cities healthier, and empower the citizens of Europe."