Living in a low-income neighbourhood on either the Atlantic or Pacific coast of Canada makes you more likely to suffer poor health compared to those in less affluent neighbourhoods in other parts of the country, say researchers at Toronto's St. Michael's Hospital.
While other studies have shown that rates of illness and death are higher in poor neighbourhoods than in affluent ones, the St. Michael's Hospital study goes a step further.
"This research shows where people live in Canada plays a big role in how strongly they are affected," Heather White, a researcher at St. Michael's Centre for Research on Inner City Health, said in a release.
The researchers found that on average, Canadians living in neighbourhoods with low income, low education, high unemployment and poor housing were 10 per cent more likely to report poor health compared to their more affluent neighbours.
However, people living in deprived neighbourhoods on the Atlantic coast were 20 per cent more likely to report poor health. That jumps to 30 per cent on the Pacific coast - more than twice that reported in the Prairies and Central Canada.
The study appears in the February issue of Health & Place journal.
The researchers suspect the problem may be that those on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts have less access to health care and fresh and affordable food, says White. They may also have fewer places to exercise and centres for promoting good health.
The study looked at data on 120,290 Canadians living in 3,668 urban neighbourhoods and measured self-reports of poor health. They considered a person's evaluation of their own health a reliable reflection of their actual physical and mental status.
The findings echo a 2006 report by the Conference Board of Ontario showing that those living in the Atlantic regions have the lowest life expectancy, highest infant, cardiovascular and cancer mortality rates in the country.