Life expectancy has fallen for women living in some of the poorest areas of the city, new figures have revealed.
Data shows that during the past ten years, life expectancy for some women has got worse, with the gap in life expectancy between the wealthiest and the poorest widening.
York’s public health team says economic austerity has had an impact on women’s health – particularly on single parents.
They say money worries can cause health problems and also mean women may not be able to heat their homes, feed themselves well and have time for healthy activities such as seeing friends or exercising.
While life expectancy for women living in the wealthiest areas of the city had increased by an average of 1.6 years over the past ten years, in the most deprived tenth of the population it fell.
According to council data, there is an eight year difference in women’s average life expectancy depending on where they live in York.
For men, the gap is even wider, with those living in Copmanthorpe, the wealthiest area, living ten years longer than those in Westfield, the most deprived neighbourhood.
Hit by austerity
Fiona Phillips, assistant director of public health, said: “There is some evidence that nationally, economic austerity impacts particularly on women’s health.
“Since 2010, 86 per cent of the burden of austerity has fallen on women, this includes changes to universal credit, childcare tax credits and child benefits, the majority of which are claimed by women.
“These changes have also had a disproportionate impact on single women who are more likely to be lone parents.
“Along with the direct financial impact, economising often requires a greater amount of time, for example making meals from scratch instead of buying ready-made, and searching for the cheapest ingredients and options.
“Buying cheaper or poorer quality food options, keeping your home colder and dealing with increased stress levels are all adjustments that might be made to cope with rising inflation, but which all have an impact on health.”
She said the issues affect women across the UK, adding: “Through the current pandemic, we have seen the health impacts of economic inequality, and we will continue to do everything we can to help support the people of York to enjoy better health and wellbeing.”
The council runs health programmes focused on preventing the leading causes of death.
For men the leading cause of death is from circulatory disease, such as heart disease and strokes. For women the most common cause of death is respiratory disease, such as chronic obstructive airways disease and pneumonia.
Ms Phillips added: “We are committed to supporting the health of the people of York, and the data around life expectancy and wellbeing informs our support programmes and plans.
“Many of our current health programmes focus on supporting people to stop smoking, encouraging them to eat a healthy diet, and helping them be physically active.
“These areas were targeted as ways to help prevent the respiratory diseases and illnesses that are the largest factors for women’s deaths.
“Our programmes, including the health trainers initiatives, are long term programmes that prevent people suffering from these illnesses later in life. Immediate measures to manage these conditions would be provided by the NHS, and we support their work through raising awareness of services and campaigns. ”
Ms Phillips added: “Over the last 10 years, life expectancy for women has gotten worse. In the least deprived half of York life expectancy grew by 1.6 years. In the most deprived half it grew by 1.5 years, but in the most deprived 10th of the population, life expectancy for women actually fell.
“For the period 2012 to14 the gap in life expectancy at birth between the most and least deprived 20 per cent of the population in York was 5.6 years for males and 5.4 years for females.”