Majority Of Brits Are Happy

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Nine out of ten British people are happy, and almost seven in 10 expect more good than bad experiences in the next five to 10 years, according to the first study of the public's perceptions of health inequalities published today.

But, despite a great deal of optimism, the survey shows that people are acutely aware of social differences and the impact that has on health. Other findings include:

* seven in 10 want the income gap reduced;

* 95 per cent think everyone should have the same opportunities for education, regardless of their family income;

* over 90 per cent felt that all children in Britain should have an equal chance of living a long and healthy life and of becoming a top income earner; and

* just 48 per cent felt that that all children in Britain currently enjoy an equal chance of living a long and healthy life.

The survey by the National Social Marketing Centre was launched as delegates from across the globe gathered in London for the start of a landmark health inequalities conference.

Opened by the Prime Minister and Alan Johnson, the conference builds on the work led by Sir Michael Marmot on the social determinants of health, and will share international best practice.

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There are good stories to tell on health inequalities, for example in the last ten years, infant deaths in England and Wales have fallen from 5.9 to 4.8 per 1,000 live births and from 6.7 to 5.6 for routine and manual groups. Learning from international best practice has made reductions like this possible.

In his speech, the Health Secretary will underline the importance of keeping momentum in tackling the social determinants of poor health, in what are challenging economic times globally.

Mr Johnson will also ask Sir Michael Marmot to lead a review of UK action required on health inequalities and set new targets for the future.

Alan Johnson, said: "In spite of economic pressure, we need to be as ambitious in tackling health inequality as we are in tackling child poverty. I am asking Michael Marmot to review our position and investigate whether it is possible to eradicate health inequality altogether.

"The temptation in these difficult economic times, is to see addressing the deeply complex social determinants of poor health as a luxury we can't afford, as opposed to one we can't afford to neglect.

"I won't accept that a man born in Blackpool should die on average ten years earlier than a man in Kensington and Chelsea. Through strategic action and sharing global best practice, we can maintain the UK's focus on tackling inequality, and keep our place as a world leader in the field."

The Department of Health unveiled details of a review to be led by Sir Michael Marmot on future action to tackle inequalities in England to 2015, which builds on the results from the WHO's Commission on the Social Determinants of Health report earlier this year

Chair of the WHO Commission on the Social Determinants of Health, Sir Michael Marmot, said:

"I'm delighted to be leading a review for the UK. The Commission report highlighted the unfairness of the world in which we live. It is unacceptable that a child born in some parts of Africa can live up to 50 years less than a child born in Japan; and it is unacceptable within the UK there are up to 28 years differences depending on where you live.

"Our report gave us the evidence we needed to act. And the results of this survey show us the vast majority of us expect equality. Over the next two days we will be working out ways of making our globe a fairer place in which to live because it doesn't and shouldn't have to be this way."

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