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Fuel poverty and human health: A review of recent evidence


The health impacts of tackling fuel poverty are reviewed, drawing primarily on large-scale studies completed in the last 10 years. Although physical health effects on adults appear to be modest, caregivers and children perceive significant impacts on children’s respiratory health. There also appear to be significant effects on the physical health of infants, particularly on weight gain and susceptibility to illness. Mental health effects on adults emerge as significant in most studies, as do mental health impacts on adolescents. Mental health effects on children have, as yet, never been systematically assessed. Whilst several studies are methodologically rigorous, with some also based on very large samples, methodological problems remain. In future evaluations of health impacts, clinical outcomes could be more comprehensively augmented with measures that extend beyond physical health. These include measures reflecting quality of life, changes in patterns of social engagement and daily routine, and their concomitant impacts on mental wellbeing, Such measures may provide more rounded insights into the potential health impacts of tackling fuel poverty and—equally as important for policy and practice—the processes by which these impacts become manifest.