Map shows ill health persists in same area for 114 years

Researchers aiming to improve the health of east Londoners have found poverty and ill health have persisted there for more than 100 years.

Experts from Queen Mary, University of London, mapped those they thought were most at risk of type 2 diabetes.

They said it was "startling" how similar the results were to Victorian reformist Charles Booth's poverty maps.

Type 2 diabetes is strongly linked with poverty and South Asian ethnicity, both of which are common in east London.

The project's aim was to help local authorities and NHS services tackle poor health by directing efforts where they are most needed.

'Dire need'

Although the study examined the London boroughs of Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Newham, the same technique could be applied anywhere in the country, and to other diseases.

Unlike the Booth maps, which were based on observation, this study used the electronic records of more than half a million people taken from GP surgeries in the area.

About 10% of the adult population are categorised as at a high-risk of developing diabetes, however the map showed "hotspots" where up to 17% of adults were in this category.

Image caption East London was known as being a poor area in the 19th Century

Further analysis showed that these areas were associated with poverty and were the same areas highlighted in Booth's maps which were made in 1898-99.

Douglas Noble, a public health doctor and lecturer at Queen Mary who led the study, said: "It was no surprise to see that diabetes risk is high in areas where poverty was high.

"What was surprising was that some of these pockets of deprivation and ill-health have persisted for over 100 years.

"But unlike in Booth's time, we now know how diseases like diabetes can be prevented."

Trisha Greenhalgh, professor of primary health care at Queen Mary, said: "This study, which concentrates on three of the 'Olympic boroughs', highlights the dire need for a major and lasting Olympic legacy to improve health and longevity in east London."

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