Health gap between rich and poor widest ever

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The gap between the health of the rich and the poor is greater now than at any time since records began, according to research.

Government initiatives over the last few decades have done little or nothing to close the gap between the life expectancy of poor people compared with those who are wealthy.

A review of deaths between 1921 and 2007 showed inequality between the rich and poor has been increasing, especially in relation to premature deaths.

People in the most deprived areas are much more likely to die younger than those in the richest, and things are no better than during the economic depression of the 1930s, the study found.

"The last time in the long economic record that inequalities were almost as high was in the lead up to the economic crash of 1929 and the economic depression of the 1930s," researchers said.

But they warned that things could be about to become even worse, with the economic downturn of the last couple of years impacting on the health of Britain's poorest.

"The economic crash of 2008 might precede even greater inequalities in mortality between areas in Britain," they said.

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