Charles Booth, manufacturer and philanthropist, lived at the end of the 19th century. He investigated poverty in London, mapping out streets of overcrowding and poverty, as well as areas that were wealthier.

What he found was that the poorest were the sickest.

His maps still exist and the streets are still there. Recently, researchers carried out a similar study in the same areas. This time around they focused on a serious long-term disease: Type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes is associated with a higher risk of heart disease; and if untreated it can lead to damage of the kidneys, eyes and blood vessels. Over recent decades it has become increasingly common. The people most at risk are those with a large waistline who do little physical activity. The risk is also higher in Asian people.

The study showed that the same areas mapped by Booth still have the least wealth and the highest levels of the disease.

The reasons for the similarity may be complex, bearing in mind the changes in the population in those streets over the past 100 years.

But it is a sobering thought that all this time later we may not be that much further forward.

(Link to BBC article about the study)


Professor Brian Kirby, author of How to Live to 110: Your comprehensive guide to a healthy life.


  One Response to “Poverty and illness – not just a thing of the past”

  1. Maybe things will improve now there is a better understanding of the causes diabetes – but it will probably take a long time.

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