Behind the healthy and wealthy facade of the northern beaches lies a secret problem: alcohol.
For the second year in a row, a Fairfax Media analysis of health statistics has found residents of some of the northern suburbs are the healthiest when it comes to everything but alcohol use.
Hospitalisations linked to alcohol use were highest in the wealthiest parts of Sydney, with Manly having a higher rate than any other local government area for the second year in a row, and Sydney, Mosman, Hunters Hill and North Sydney were not far behind.
The figures, from Health Statistics NSW, show the problem is getting worse. In all but Hunters Hill the rate of hospitalisations increased between 2009 and 2011.
The hospitalisations are linked to long-term alcohol use, and include only residents of those suburbs – not people who visit them to drink.
The analysis reveals stark differences in the health of the rich and poor in Sydney, with almost all the highest rates of deaths and hospitalisations linked to conditions such as diabetes, body mass and heart disease clustered in the poorest areas.
The director of Curtin University’s public health advocacy institute, Mike Daube, said the analysis showed we were developing a two-tiered health system.
”The haves have better health and the have-nots have poorer health and live shorter lives,” Professor Daube said. ”This isn’t a coincidence; this fits with everything we know about patterns of health and it really does show that good health is essentially the preserve of the most affluent.”