Living in the city: EastLondonLines boroughs have some of worst life expectancy rates in London

Residents of Lewisham, Hackney and Croydon have an average life expectancy 17 years lower than other London boroughs, according to new research.

The three boroughs were amongst the boroughs with the lowest life expectancy in London, a study by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has revealed.

Reasons for low life expectancy can include pollution caused by heavy traffic, poor diet and smoking and alcohol consumption.

According to the study, both men and women in Millwall ward can expect to live 9.5 years longer than someone from Tower Hamlets. While residents from Kensington and Chelsea will, on average, outlive those from Lewisham Central Ward by 17.4 years. The average life expectancy in Lewisham Central Ward is 70.9 years.

The study also shows that life expectancy differs more between genders within these boroughs than in others in London.

Across the nation, the average life expectancy for women is higher than for men with women averaging 82.3 years, and men 78.2 years. For Londoners women average 81.7 years for men 77.1.

While the average life expectancy is higher for women than men, research suggests that councils and Primary Care Trust’s (PCT’s) spend more on services aimed at women than men.

A comparison in Tower Hamlets shows that the council’s third sector spending on women and men (grants to charities or voluntary groups) over the last 5 years differs significantly. Spending on women, at £362,213, is triple that of grants to men’s groups at £122,250.

No detailed figures for the PCT’s spending in the EastLondonLines boroughs were available.

EastLondonLines reporters spoke to residents of Lewisham about the findings of the study:


Kerran Gray, 30, a student from Lewisham:

“The problem is that not many young men get checked out these days in comparison to women. A solution could be to advertise healthy living which could result in an increase of check ups. There could also be talks in schools and colleges which would then make young men more aware of the importance of their health.”


Anthony Harrison

Anthony Harrison, 53, Surveyor:

“There are a number of issues, pollution, stress, poverty, diet, lifestyle, but I don’t think the statistics are shocking, if you want progression you have to accept certain things. I don’t think men will seek help now due to the impersonal nature of the health system.”


Julie Heartly, 35, from South London:

“It’s strange you come out with these statistics, but maybe it’s because more men work outside and so are therefore more environmentally exposed to fumes and pollution. Also, some men are very reluctant to go to the hospital to get check-ups, whereas women are more open to health treatments. It would be pointless to throw money into the NHS if men are reluctant to get checked out, so maybe a campaign may encourage them.”


Emma MacFarlane, 35, a nurse from Lewisham:

“London is much worse than other places. I grew up in the countryside, where I never had any allergies. But ever since I moved to London 14 years ago, I have developed a few and they have gone worse in the past 3 years. As a nurse, I believe that more health treatments are targeted towards women than men. It is changing now, but it’s still more in favour of women.”


M A Saywood

M.A. Saywood, 47, Architect:

”I don’t think my daughter would have asthma if she didn’t live in London. A friend of mine runs an asthma clinic and she sees a lot boys coming in with breathing difficulties. I think we need to get rid of pollution, its nothing to do with men, it’s all about pollution.”


Sikiry Sholeye, 58, a retired real-estate consultant from Sydenham:

“The NHS has helped me a lot in the past and I think they are providing a great service. I have had two strokes and each time they were very professional. London might be an unhealthy area but I think it affects both men and women equally; it depends on the person.”


Liam Wolf

Liam Wolf, 22 , Student:

“Lewisham Way is rubbish but my road is ok because it’s not facing the main road. I’m not surprised by the statistics, I mean look at this road it gets even worse. It’s not about the pollution, drinking is a much bigger issue. The health trust needs to invest into Lewisham by providing a better bike route”

Interviews by Stephanie Tate, Victoria Di Gioacchino, Debbie Sonaike and Soraya Ali. Additional research by Flora Okoro, Farhan Daw, Emily Reed.


  1. Viktoria July 9, 2012
  2. Justin Moskowitz August 7, 2012

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