Two health experts at London University are warning there is an urgent need for research into the effects of the National Lottery.
Martin McKee, reader in public health medicine, and health economist Franco Sassi of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine are calling for an investigation of the public health consequences of the Lottery.
In an editorial in tomorrow's British Medical Journal, they say that if the Lottery widens income inequalities, this has health implications, because there are links bet- ween income and life expectancy.
A study in the United States found that poor people spent a lot more on lottery tickets than the middle class, and that lack of education was the best buying predictor.
It is not clear that these results can be applied to the United Kingdom, they say, and there should be research into the Lottery's effects on spending on healthy products, such as fruit and vegetables, or unhealthy, such as tobacco and alcohol.
"Anything that makes poor people in Britain even poorer, especially if they do not derive benefits in kind, becomes an important public health issue," they say.