Consumer Skills
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03rd December 2001

2,000 local people dying of "being poor"

<p>2,000 people in Northern Ireland are dying each year because they are less well off, according to "In Poor Health", a new report from the General Consumer Council.</p>

The report estimates that 2000 people would live longer each year if District Council areas with the highest death rates had the same health status as those areas with the lowest death rates. Other key facts in the discussion paper show that:

- Children born in poorer families are smaller and have a higher death rate
- Life expectancy among poorer families in Northern Ireland is similar to that in Eastern European countries i.e. 6 to 7 years less than those on higher incomes here
- Tooth decay is higher in poorer areas
- Less well off people are 3-4 times more likely to be on "medicine for their nerves"

Joan Whiteside, Chairman of the Consumer Council said:
- It is frightening in the 21st Century that people's lives are cut short because they have less money. We need a targeted programme to improve the health of the poor. We also need to improve awareness of nutrition, diet and lifestyle among those who are less well off.¨

Mrs Whiteside added that this was an issue for all Government Departments:
-This is not just an issue for the Department of Health. All economic, social and environmental policies should have a health audit to ensure they bring health benefits to disadvantaged consumers in particular.¨

ENDS
Notes To Editors

1. Contact: Alan Walker on 9067 2488 (office hours) or Mobile 079 7939 2284.

2. In Poor Health was adapted from a paper prepared for the General Consumer Council by Dr Dermott O'Reilly (Department of Epidemiology, Queen's University) and Dr Brian Gaffney (Chief Executive, Health Promotion Agency).

3. In Poor Health is the third in the series 'The Price of Being Poor' Papers produced by the General Consumer Council looking at a range of important issues affecting low income consumers. The previous two papers have addressed food and transport and can be viewed at the Council website on www.gccni.org.uk