Comparison of a range of health indicators in the West Midlands versus the rest of England reveals evidence of significant health inequality. In terms of fertility, the West Midlands has the highest birth rate in England. It also has the highest infant mortality rate and during the shift from a manufacturing to a service-based economy, it was the only region in which poverty and child poverty increased.
In 2016 to 2018, the life expectancy for females in the West Midlands was 82.7 years, 1.8 years less than in London where the life expectancy was estimated to be highest. The life expectancy for males was 78.9 years, 1.8 years less than in the South East and London, which had the highest life expectancy. One third of West Midlands local authorities have identified particular issues in relation to:
- Physically inactive children
- Teenage pregnancy
- Male life expectancy
- Smoking in pregnancy
- Healthy eating in adults
- Breastfeeding initiation
- Obese adults
Childhood obesity, deaths by all causes, deaths related to asthma and infant mortality were all higher than the figures for England. The region has significant levels of inherited rare diseases, largely due to consanguinity within elements of its population.
By contrast, some indicators were better than the England average. The level of alcohol consumption by women was lower than the England average (11 per cent versus 15 per cent), and the incidence of lung cancer among women was also lower than the England average.
Despite these statistics, which typically characterise the deprived areas, there are many affluent communities where the correspondingly different indices of health only serve to highlight the extent of the inequalities that exist.