BOLTON'S high street has been named among the 'unhealthiest' in the country.

Research by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) found that residents living in towns with lots of bookies and off-licences die younger than those with plenty of libraries and pharmacies.

Its ranking of 70 high streets found those living in the top ten healthy areas lived on average two-and-a-half years longer than those with the 10 unhealthiest high streets.

Bolton was judged to be the seventh unhealthiest town in the UK.

Grimsby led the list, followed by Walsall and Blackpool, while Edinburgh, Canterbury and Taunton came out on top in the healthy stakes.

The report also found that Bolton has the second highest percentage of empty shops - with 26.4 per cent of retail outlets unoccupied.

Bolton North East MP David Crausby said he was 'disappointed' at the study's findings.

He added: "It is clearly connected to prosperity and Bolton suffers unfairly and has felt more damage from austerity.

"It is inevitable if people work in poorly paid jobs that they will end up being unhealthy, and that happens to far too many of my constituents.

"There needs to be a transfer of wealth and resources from south to north. The way we need to do that is by improving the infrastructure in the north.

"The Northern Powerhouse is a good idea but it needs some backing in financial terms. That will improve the lives of people in the north, and particularly in Bolton."

The Health on the High Street: Running on Empty report used a scale giving points for pubs and bars, dentists, opticians, libraries, leisure centres, museums and galleries, pharmacies, coffee shops and vape shops.

Points were deducted for betting shops, payday lenders, fast food outlets, off licences, tanning salons and empty shops.

Stoke-on-Trent, Sunderland, Northampton, Wolverhampton, Huddersfield and Bradford also found themselves in the bottom ten.

The research found that 4,000 new fast food outlets had opened across the UK in the past five years - predominantly in poorer areas.

Deprived areas now have five times more fast food shops than wealthy neighbourhoods, the RSPH said.

It showed that vape shops have doubled to 2,000 in the last three years, while the number of empty shops on the high street has increased from below 7 per cent in 2007 to 11 per cent in 2017.

Shirley Cramer CBE, chief executive of the RSPH, said that Chancellor's Budget did 'not go far enough' for high streets as local authorities are unable to reshape them due to ongoing funding cuts.

Kieron Boyle - chief executive of Guy's and St Thomas' Charity which works to improve health in London - welcomed the research and said it highlighted the role of environmental factors on health and how factors beyond the health and care system can influence people's wellbeing.