Workers in Wales are much more likely to take time off sick than workers in the rest of the UK, according to a health survey.
Merthyr Tydfil, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Neath Port Talbot and Carmarthenshire were named as some of the unhealthiest areas with residents suffering from severe illnesses and poor diets.
The London boroughs of Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Southwark and Lambeth followed as the second unhealthiest group.
Ian Thurman, a researcher from CACI, said he was not surprised that south Wales fared so badly in the sickness stakes.
“It’s the classic ex-mining areas, steel works, ship building – all those post-industrial areas,” he said. Thurman warned that the NHS was already overstretched by high levels of sickness.
“The NHS is already overburdened, but this is nothing compared to the time-bomb that is set to explode if people don’t make major changes to their lifestyles,” he said.
The Isles of Scilly was named as the healthiest place in the UK – followed by Eden in Cumbria and the Orkney Islands.
A spokeswoman from the Welsh Assembly government said: “Wales has a history of ill health and chronic conditions, due mainly to its industrial past. Tackling poor health and health inequalities is a key priority for the assembly government.”