Roman Road named as the second unhealthiest high street in London

Roman Road Market, which takes place in the second unhealthiest high street in London. Picture: Isab

Roman Road Market, which takes place in the second unhealthiest high street in London. Picture: Isabel Infantes - Credit: Archant

A road in Tower Hamlets has been named the second unhealthiest high street in London.

Roman Road West, which runs through Bow to Bethnal Green, came second only to West Green Road in Haringey, on the Royal Society for Public Health’s rankings.

The list, published last week, was based on the prevalence of different types of businesses in the street, and was featured in the RSPH’s report, Health on the High Street: Running on Empty.

Unmesh Desai, London Assembly member for City and East, said the findings were “incredibly concerning”.

He said: “It is clear that we need robust regulation put in place to clamp down on the number fast food outlets and betting shops, whose presence can be incredibly harmful to the mental and physical health of local people.

“To tackle local health and social inequalities, it is also essential that public services such as health centres, libraries and skills providers are set up in our community where they are needed most.”

The report identified a clear link between deprivation and health – the top 10 unhealthiest streets had an average deprivation score of 26.9, compared to the top 10 healthiest streets, which had an average score of 19.9.

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It highlighted the growing number of fast food and vape shops, especially in deprived areas. On average, poorer areas have five times as many fast food shops as affluent areas, and in the last three years, the number of vape shops on high streets has doubled.

Chief executive of the RSPH, Shirley Cramer, said this health imbalance between in rich and poor areas needs to be rebalanced.

“Our rankings illustrate how unhealthy businesses concentrate in areas which already experience higher levels of deprivation, obesity and lower life expectancy,” she said.

“Reshaping these high streets to be more health-promoting could serve as a tool to help redress this imbalance.”

The RSPH has proposed a range of measures to tackle unhealthy high streets. They include discounted advertising from sites like Facebook and Google for independent, health-promoting businesses, and a review on business tax rates to make sure high street shops aren’t disadvantaged in comparison to online retailers.