Copenhageners die sooner

Unhealthy urban lifestyle cuts life expectancy of city dwellers

Too many cigarettes and too much alcohol. Too little exercise and too much stress. Too many kebabs and not enough salads.

An unhealthy lifestyle is killing Copenhageners earlier than other Danes. According to a report on public health in Copenhagen, the life expectancy of capital city dwellers is 2.2 years lower than the Danish population as a whole.

“These are really bad numbers,” Copenhagen's deputy mayor for health, Ninna Thomsen (SF), told Politiken newspaper.

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Worse for men
Copenhagen men live nearly three years less on average, while women live 1.7 years less. The big killers are diseases like cancer, heart disease, emphysema and diabetes.

Those on the lower end of the education spectrum are especially hard hit. They generally have a worse lifestyle and die six years sooner than their better educated neighbours. According to the report, more than 150,000 low-skilled locals have increased risks of diseases caused by unhealthy habits.

“Many of those who leave school early have a hard life and die younger,” said Thomsen.

Wellness campaigns not enough
Thomsen said that random campaigns from the health department do little to help and that a “long haul” approach to lifestyle issues starting with school children and progressing into the workplace is required.

“It's about integrating health into everything we do,” she said. “You can not just hoist a flag one week a year.”

Enhedslisten spokesperson Charlotte Lund said that the health divide reflects Copenhagen as a whole.

“Copenhagen is still a divided city with a great societal and economic inequality, as reflected in health status and life expectancy,” she told Politiken. “It is not something that we should just accept.”

Lund said that the city needed to be better at providing information about stress, health and safety. At the same time, she said it was not the role of the council to be a health guru, dictating what constituted “the good life”.





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