If you live in Glasgow, you are more likely to die young. Men die a full seven years earlier than their counterparts in other UK cities. Until recently, the causes of this excess mortality remained a mystery. “Deep-fried Mars bars,” some have speculated. “The weather,” others suggested. For years, those reasons were as good as any. In 2012, the Economist described it thus: “It is as if a malign vapour rises from the Clyde at night and settles in the lungs of sleeping Glaswegians.” The phenomenon has become known as the Glasgow effect. But David Walsh, a public health programme manager at the Glasgow Centre for Population Health, who led a study on the excess deaths in 2010, wasn’t satisfied with how the term was being used. “It turned into a Scooby-Doo mystery but it’s not an exciting thing,” he says. “It’s about people dying young, it’s about grief.” He wanted to work out why Glaswegians have a 30% higher risk of dying prematurely – that is, before the age of 65 – than those living in similar postindustrial British cities. In 2016 his team published a report looking at 40 hypotheses – from vitamin D deficiency to obesity and… Read full this story
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