Teens saying no to booze, but Richmond tops list for 15-year-olds getting drunk

Drinking alcoholThe soberest 15-year-olds in the country appear to be living in London, with the exception perhaps of the teenagers of Richmond.

A national survey of attitudes and habits of 15-year-olds found that 59% in London say that they have never touched alcohol, the lowest level for any region in England and Wales.

Of those that have drunk alcohol, nearly two thirds say that they are do not drink currently while in the South West of England, the same proportion say they do.

The What About YOUth survey commissioned by the Department of Health reveals that drinking habits are influenced by cultural and ethnic factors and by deprivation levels.

This can be seen in a borough by borough break down of the survey that received responses from around 120,000 teenagers.

When asked if they had ever taken an alcoholic drink just 15% in Tower Hamlets, 20% in Newham and 25% in Brent said yes.  Both boroughs have high levels of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic teenagers in the population, who were found to drink less than white youngsters.  Many Muslims live in these boroughs and drinking alcohol is forbidden by their faith.

Drinking levels were higher in outer London boroughs (including Redbridge, Havering, Bexley, Bromley, Sutton and Kingston), than inner ones and the highest proportion of 15-year-olds who have consumed alcohol was in Richmond.

Teens had a drink

Richmond also has the highest proportion in England and Wales of 15-year-olds who say that they have been drunk in the past month.  38% of those who say that they have tried alcohol say that they have been drunk in the previous 4 weeks.

Teens drunks

The proportion in Richmond is substantially higher than most other London boroughs. Haringey was the only other borough where the rate was above 30%.

Source data

See also

Kensington teenage girls have the most negative body image in England

London losing its thirst for binge drinking

London teen pregnancy rate lowest but more end in abortion


Sexual infection rates doubled or trebled in some areas over past 5 years

condom in handLevels of sexually transmitted infections are soaring in London with rates of syphilis rising by 45% in Lambeth in 12 months.

Across the capital there is a marked increase in the diagnosis of a range of sexual infections particularly in young people aged 16-24 and among gay men.

Figures for the diagnosis of infections gathered from genito-urinary medicine (GUM) clinics by Public Health England show that while levels of infection are up across the UK it is London that is seeing a particularly steep rise.

syphilis chart

The rate of syphilis in London has more than doubled in 5 years, with the biggest increase from 2013 to 2014, the last full year of records. In some boroughs the picture is more concerning with a rise of 140% in Lambeth and a three-fold increase between 2009-14 in Southwark.

syphilis map

Rates remain below the national rate for England of 7.8 cases per 100,000 in a number of outer London boroughs. Bexley, Sutton, and Barking and Dagenham have the lowest rates of diagnosis.

Syphilis is a bacterial infection that if left untreated can cause significant health problems and even death. It can be effectively treated with antibiotics and remains relatively rare. Gonorrhoea is a much more common and has also increased dramatically, rising 47% in 5 years.

Once again it is Lambeth and Southwark that have the highest levels. Rates for the City of London are high, though based upon a small population. Most central areas have a rate well in excess of the London-wide average of 190 cases per 100,000 people. Only 5 London boroughs, Sutton, Harrow, Havering, Bexley and Bromley have rates below the England average of 63 cases per 100,000.

gonorrhoea map

The rate in Southwark went up by 172% between 2009-14, while is Lambeth it rose by more than 200%. Lambeth has the highest rate of gonorrhoea in England.

Gonorrhoea is easily transmitted during sex and many people, particularly women, do not show any symptoms. It is treated with antibiotics, though there is concern about the growing resistance of the infection to some of these drugs.

Public Health England analysis shows that there is some difference in infection rates based upon ethnicity with black people having higher diagnosis rates, particularly those living in deprived urban areas.

There are also variation in the distribution of infections according to sexual orientation and gender. Men having sex with other men accounted for 81% of the cases of syphilis and 52% of the cases of gonorrhoea in England last year. Genital warts and chlamydia are nearly all in heterosexual people while 92% of the diagnoses of genital herpes are in women.

Public Health England says that rates are highest in London as the city is home to core groups of people at risk and there is greater access to clinics providing treatment.

It says the rates in gay men are particularly worrying and may be due to unsafe sex, including the decision not to use a condom by partners believed to be of the same HIV status.

Source data

See also

Some boroughs excelling at chlamydia screening for under 25s

The dating data for lovelorn Londoners

Many in caring professions negative towards LGBT people, says survey


Low birth weight babies in Tower Hamlets 60% above London average

My Life Graphic shutterstock_274794572-2

Photo: My Life Graphic ┃Shutterstock.com

9,500 babies were born with a low birth weight in London last year. A little over half of them were premature but more than 4,000 were full term babies who weighed less than 2.5 kg or 5.5lbs.

Low birth weight is related to the rate of infant deaths and the risk of poor health for children. While the rate has come down in London over the past 10 years at 3.2% it is still above the average for England and in some areas it is markedly higher.

The rate in Tower Hamlets is 5%, the highest in London. It is also high in Newham, Harrow and Waltham Forest. Boroughs in South West London have much lower rates, particularly Richmond and Sutton.

Low birth weight

The reasons for low birth weight in full term babies are complex. Smoking and drinking alcohol during pregnancy are factors but so too are medical problems for the mother such as conditions that affect the placenta and inhibit the baby’s growth.

Genetics also play a part. Some families are just smaller and low birth weight is far more common in Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Black African and Caribbean families than white Europeans. The areas of London with high rates all have a higher than average proportion of Black, Asian and minority ethnic residents.

But low birth weight has also been linked to social inequalities. It is more common in single mothers and for parents in manual occupations.

The government uses it as a public health indicator in relation to issues of premature mortality, avoidable illness, and inequalities in health, particularly in relation to child poverty.

Source data

See also

More mums in their early 40s than early 20s in city’s wealthiest areas

Baby booming Wandsworth is the city’s kiddie capital

Over 50% of London babies have mothers born outside the UK


Kensington teenage girls have the most negative body image in England

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Photo: KieferPix ┃ Shutterstock.com

15-year-old girls in Kensington and Chelsea have the most negative body image in England for girls their age. 56% of them think that they are too fat and only a third feel that they are about the right weight.

In contrast, boys in the borough have the most positive perceptions of themselves in the country.

The findings come from the What About YOUth survey commissioned by the Department of Health that looked at attitudes to health and well-being by young people across the country. It is based upon a questionnaire that was completed by 120,000 teenagers across England.

It found that nationally, 46% of girls feel that they are too fat and 45% think they are about right. In London there are 5 boroughs in addition to Kensington and Chelsea where more than half the girls consider themselves to be too fat – Hammersmith and Fulham, Richmond, Kingston, Sutton and Bromley.

Body image girls

Boys are less likely to believe that they are fat, 23% of 15-year-olds nationally compared to 46% of girls. In London, 8 boroughs are above the England average with the most negative perceptions in Westminster and Sutton.

Body image boys

The 15-year-old boys of Kensington and Chelsea have the lowest proportion of those who feel they are fat in England with just 13%. 70% of Kensington’s teenage boys think that they are about the right weight.

It’s regrettable that the girls in the neighbourhood do not share this self-confidence.

Source data

See also

How the obesity rate doubled for the class of 2007

London teen pregnancy rate lowest but more end in abortion

Thousands of children sent to hospital because of tooth decay

750 new cases of female genital mutilation identified over summer

More than 750 women and girls who had been subjected to Female Genital Mutilation were recorded by the NHS in London over the summer.

More than half the newly recorded cases in the UK were in London, according to the data for July to September released this month by the Heath and Social Care Information Centre.

Photo: Redkaya ┃Shutterstock.com

Photo: Redkaya ┃Shutterstock.com

Female Genital Mutilation, or FGM, is the removal of all or part of the female genitals for non-medical reasons. It is a traditional practice in a number of African countries but it is illegal in the UK.

The law was strengthened in 2003 to prevent girls being taken overseas to undergo FGM. This is thought to be particularly prevalent during the long school summer holidays which have been termed the ‘cutting season’.

The newly recorded cases do not necessarily indicate that the procedure had been recently carried out on these women. Rather it is when the NHS recorded their case. In around half the cases the women reported the FGM themselves.

The country of origin is not known for many of the women. Where origin is recorded, the national figures show the largest number of women is from Africa, particularly East Africa, and especially Somalia.

A previous study by City University and the human rights organisation Equality Now, reported by Urbs, estimated that as many as 87,000 women and girls across the capital may have undergone FGM. Brent and Southwark had the largest number of cases.


The NHS began collecting quarterly statistics on newly identified cases in 2014. So far the data has been collected largely from acute or hospital trusts, but from October it became mandatory for GP surgeries to also make submission. This may well cause the number of recorded victims to rise in the coming months.

Source data

See also

Thousands of women and girls with FGM living across London

Mapping Londoners: Born in Somalia


Flu blamed for winter deaths hitting 15-year high


Photo: Alexander Raths ┃Shutterstock.com

There were 4,000 excess winter deaths in London in 2014/15, the highest rate for 15 years. And much the blame is being placed on the failure of the flu vaccine to protect the vulnerable from a particularly nasty strain of the virus.

Death rates in winter are higher than in summer months, particularly for the elderly and vulnerable. The numbers are measured according to an index called the Excess Winter Mortality. This calculates the rate of deaths above the average for non-winter months.

The winter 2014/15 was the worse since 1999/2000 when there were 5,870 excess deaths recorded. Although the figures are bad for last winter, London fared better than most other regions of England and Wales. The rate of excess deaths in London was 26.3%. Only the Wales, the West Midland and Yorkshire and Humberside recorded lower rates.

Winter Death index regions

Looking at the detailed figures according to age ranges show that while London had lower rates of death for people below pensionable age and those 75-84 it had rates slightly higher than England and Wales for the 64-75 age group and fractionally higher in the over 85s.

winter deaths london ages

National figures show that women were more vulnerable than men in all the age categories above 65. Men had a higher rate in the 0-64 group.

The impact of the flu is apparent in the cause of death data. According to the Office for National Statistics the proportion of people dying of respiratory diseases was 78% above the average for non-winter months. In the over 85s it was nearly twice the rate.

Doctors are hoping that the apparent failure of the flu vaccine to protect people last winter does not push down immunisation rates this winter, as reported by Urbs.

Source data

See also

Health and wealth – an East/West divide when it comes to a flu jab

98,000 not claiming their pension in a tale of two Londons

Women in London will live longer than anywhere in the UK

How the obesity rate doubled for the class of 2007

dreamstime_s_9910135The rate of obesity in primary school children in London doubles between Reception and Year 6. And the capital has the biggest problem of any region in the country with children who are overweight or classified as obese.

The findings come from analysis by Urbs Media of data from the National Child Measurement Programme over the last 9 years. Under this programme children are measured and weighed at the start and the end of primary school. It was set up by the government to help tackle obesity and covers children in all state schools, with around 95% taking part.

The most recent figures are for the 2013-14 school year and show that more than a fifth of children in Year 6 in London are classified as obese. That is more than double the rate for children in reception.

child obesity London

And this is not a recent phenomenon. Data going back to the 2006-07 school year shows a similar doubling in rates of obesity.

The Year 6 children from last year entered the school system in 2007. The data for that year shows that of the 74,235 Reception children measured, 10.8% or 8,017 were classified as obese.   In Year 6, 78,642 were measured. Many of the children may be different as families leave and arrive in the capital. But many will be the same. The rate of obesity for the class of 2007 had doubled by age 11.

London’s record looks even grimmer when children who are classified as overweight are added. In London, 38% of 11-year-olds are classified as overweight or obese. The North East and the West Midland have a very similar proportion of overweight 11-year-olds but a slightly lower rate of obese children.

child obesity regional

The Body Mass Index (BMI) is used to calculate levels of body fat to indicate whether someone is classified as underweight, healthy weight, overweight or obese. For most adults a BMI above 30 indicates obesity. The index levels for each classification vary for children to take account of difference in growth rates at different ages.

The data for London shows a largely capital-wide problem with 7 boroughs (Hackney, Westminster, Tower Hamlets, Newham, Barking and Dagenham, Lambeth and Southwark) with more that a quarter of Year 6 pupils classified as obese. Richmond stands out by having a much lower level. It also has a lower level of obese 5-year-olds, just 6%.

child obesity map

London has a better record on adult obesity than other regions of the country but the National Child Measurement Programme data shows a significant problem for youngsters that will lead to serious health issues in later lifer.

Much has been done in the recent year to raise awareness of the need for a good diet and the risks of being overweight. Despite that, the data shows that this has been  a consistent problem and it is not going away.

Source data

BMI calculator

See also

Thousands of children sent to hospital because of tooth decay

Size matters – and it depends where you live

Thousands of children sent to hospital because of tooth decay


Photo: Dimijana ┃Shutterstock.com

Thousands of children, most of them under 10, are having teeth extracted in hospital because of decay. It is the most common reason for children between 5 and 9 to be admitted to hospital.

While many extractions take place in a dental surgery more difficult cases or ones where multiple teeth need to be removed are often referred to hospital. This is more common in younger children where a general anesthetic may be needed to perform the procedure.

London has one of the poorest records in England. Data gathered from dental hospitals for each local authority across the country for 2013-14 shows that 0.7% of under 19s in the capital were admitted to have a tooth or multiple teeth removed due to decay. That’s 13,787 children and teenagers. The figures do not include surgery on impacted wisdom teeth, often treated in hospital, which affects those over 18.

Improvements in dentistry and people’s care of their teeth mean that extractions are far less common than in the past but they are the only solution if a tooth cannot be repaired by a filling or a root canal.

The record in London is much worse that elsewhere in the South of England. In the South East region it is just 0.3% of children. Only Yorkshire and Humberside has a higher rate than London.

tooth exraction children chart

Rates are markedly higher in some parts of the capital – indicated by the darker area on the map. In Hammersmith and Fulham 1.2% of children ended up in hospital for an extraction. In neighbouring Richmond it is just 0.4%.

tooth extraction children map

The leading cause of tooth decay is frequent exposure to sugary drinks and snacks. Poor dental hygiene and failure to use fluoride toothpaste are also to blame. But Public Health England says that there is a correlation between levels of dental decay and levels of deprivation.

Its survey of levels of tooth decay in under 5s, published in 2013, showed that as with the figures on extractions, London had one of the poorest records, along with Yorkshire, Humberside and the North West.

33% of under 5s in London were found to have dental decay compared to a national average of 27%. But in Brent and Tower Hamlets the rate was 46% while in Kingston and Richmond it was below 20%.

The survey showed that the rate of dental decay had improved since the previous study in 2008 in every region except London.

Dental decay remains a significant public health problem and the NHS recommends that all children should have a dental check up once a year to prevent serious cases of decay going untreated and leading to extractions.

Data on tooth extractions

Hospital admission statistic

See also

Childhood obesity highest in London

1 in 3 kids growing up in out-of-work households in parts of London

Baby booming Wandsworth is the city’s kiddie capital


Many in caring professions negative towards LGBT people, says survey

shadow of people-2Negative and discriminatory attitudes towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people is commonplace in the caring professions according to a survey commissioned by the LGBT rights organisation Stonewall.

Its survey among people working in health and social care found around a quarter had heard colleagues make derogatory comments about LGBT people. And far from being an enlightened modern city, London has one of the worse problems in the country.

According to Stonewall 25% of those surveyed in the capital had witnessed discrimination against colleagues because of they were gay, lesbian or bisexual. This is the highest rate in the country, and London also had the highest rate of discrimination against trans people.

Stonewall discrimination seen-2

There are likely to be more people who are openly gay, lesbian or bisexual working in health and care services in London than the rest of the country if the employee base reflects society in general. 2.6% of people in London identify themselves as gay, lesbian and bisexual compared to an average of 1.6% across the UK, according to survey data for 2014 by the Office for National Statistics.

Across the country 1 in 10 health and social care workers in patient-facing roles had heard staff express the belief that homosexuality could be “cured”. In London the rate was 1 in 5. Counseling and psychotherapy bodies in the UK, NHS England and the British Medical Association condemn so-called conversion therapy.

Stonewall cured

According to the Health and Social Care Information Centre, 11% of staff in the NHS is from overseas. Some may come from more conservative cultures where there is less acceptance of homosexuality. It is not clear from the survey whether this has any impact upon attitudes.

The survey found that many staff did not feel able or equipped to challenge discriminatory behavior among colleagues or patients. About a quarter said that they had not received diversity training and the majority had not been given training on the specific health needs of LGBT people.

You Gov carried out the Unhealthy Attitudes survey for Stonewall and spoke to 3,000 people across England and Wales.

See also 

Time to celebrate but there’s no pride in a rise in homophobic attacks



Drug resistant TB poses health and financial concern

Mycobacterium_tuberculosis_Bacteria,_the_Cause_of_TB_By NIAID [CC BY 2.0 (http-//creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons 2.

Photo: by NIAID CC BY 2.0

London faces a potential health care and treatment funding crisis caused by the development of drug resistant TB.

There were 2,500 cases of tuberculosis in London last year, that’s more than any other western European city. 9% of those cases were resistant to the first line of antibiotics used to fight the infection. And the Health Committee of the London Assembly warns that drug resistance is set to rise.

In its report Tackling TB in London the Health Committee highlights how the risk from TB is increased by the lack of knowledge and the social stigma attached to the disease and it calls on the Mayor to do more to raise awareness.

It also suggests a more unified and consistent approach to treating the infection across the capital. Currently, treatment and prevention is handled at a local level and the approach varies between the 30 clinics. The committee warns that this can lead to a fragmented approach. This is underlined by the fact that only 24 of the 32 boroughs offer universal vaccination against TB to babies.

Cases of TB have risen by 50% in the last 15 years. A third of boroughs have what is classified by the World Health Organisation as a high incidence – that is more than 40 cases per 100,000 people. But in some areas of Newham, Brent, Hounslow, Harrow and Ealing it is over 150, a higher level than many developing world counties such as Rwanda or Iraq.

At borough level, Newham has the highest incidence in London and England, followed by Brent. London accounts for 40% of all TB cases in England.

TB map

TB is caused by bacteria and spread through coughing and sneezing. It most commonly affects the lungs, causing serious illness, and is potentially fatal.

It is treated by a 6-month course of antibiotics that costs around £5,000. Last year £30 million was spent tackling TB in London. Drug resistant strains of the infection require complex treatments often involving hospital care and costs are typically 10 times higher or more.

TB is closely linked to social deprivation with those who are homeless, living in overcrowded conditions, misusing drugs and alcohol, or with weakened immune systems particularly vulnerable.

Many people who are exposed to the tuberculosis bacterium will fight it off or may carry it in their bodies without getting sick. This is known as latent TB.

More than 80% of the cases in London are seen in people born outside the UK, though only a small proportion in those who have recently arrived. The most common countries of origin for non-UK born cases are India, Pakistan and Somalia.

Sufferers may have contracted TB in countries with high incidence and carried the infection in latent form only for it to become active while living in London.   Chronic illness or poor housing and nutrition may have acted as a trigger in these cases.

The rate for non-UK born cases has fallen in recent years but those for UK residents have remained unchanged.

The Health Committee reports says that far from being a disease of London’s past TB continues to present a significant public health challenge.

Source data

Tackling TB in London report

Borough level data

See also

Low drug-related death rates hide middle-aged heroin problem

Sexual infection map shows problems for Lambeth and Southwark

Health and wealth – an East/West divide when it comes to a flu jab