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England's coastal residents suffer lower life expectancy and more mental health problems

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By Tadhg Enright
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Sunbathers take advantage of the fine weather on the beach on the coast at Margate, east of London on May 31, 2021.
Sunbathers take advantage of the fine weather on the beach on the coast at Margate, east of London on May 31, 2021.   -   Copyright  BEN STANSALL / AFP
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Residents of England's pretty coastal towns are more likely to suffer from chronic disease, mental illness and have a shorter life expectancy, experts say, blaming the problem on economic decline.

England’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty, found in July that the incidence of heart and kidney disease in coastal towns is 10% higher than the national average.

Residents on the coast live shorter lives and have proportionately fewer doctors caring for people, the medical officer's report said.

Officials in towns such as Clacton-on-Sea are worried that the situation will worsen.

"Parents, in particular, are really worried about their children because the children either have to move out of Clacton if they want to get work, or commute a distance if they want to get work, or get what is fairly poorly paid work locally," Dr Michael Gogarty, Essex county council's director of Public Health, told Euronews.

Health experts say that a lot of children in these seaside communities are enthusiastic at school but lose their aspirations later on.

Excess tourist accommodation is often used by local authorities as cheap housing for vulnerable people.

Clacton-on-Sea, located on the eastern coast in Essex, has the UK’s second most severe concentration of mental health problems.

"60% of people who earn under £10,000 a year have depressive symptoms. 10% of people who earn £50,000 a year or more have depressive symptoms. The figures almost speak for themselves. The solution, I think, jobs. But not just any jobs, good jobs," said Lord Kamlesh Patel, chair at Social Work England.

It’s something that Jackie Cassel, professor in Public Health at the University of Sussex, and herself from a coastal community, recognises from her own childhood.

"When I was at school, a few of my friends became teachers but relatively few people went onto university. Do I believe that everyone I went to school with was just not as bright as the people who came from the nicer areas which tend to be inland? Clearly that’s not the case," said Jackie Cassel.

Watch the full video report in the player above.