By Jonathan Davies

Preston has been named as the UK's "unhealthiest High Street" by the Royal Society for Public Health.

The Society assessed 70 UK High Streets based on the type of businesses found there.

Bookmakers, loan shops, tanning salons and fast-food restaurants were deemed as having a negative impact on a High Street, while leisure centres and health services have positive impacts.

High Streets were scored on the number of unhealthy stores, social interaction, whether or not they provided access to health advice and promoted positive mental wellbeing.

More than 2,000 members of the public, public health and government experts assessed the businesses available.

The research found that High Streets in the North and the Midlands were the most likely to be unhealthy.

Preston was joined in the top 10 "unhealthiest High Streets" by (in order) Middlesbrough, Coventry, Blackpool, Northampton, Wolverhampton, Grimsby, Huddersfield, Stoke-on-Trent and Eastbourne.

Shrewsbury was identified as the UK's healthiest High Street, followed by Ayr, Salisbury, Perth, Hereford, Carlisle, Cambridge, Cheltenham, York and Bristol.

Royal Society for Public Health chief executive Shirley Cramer said the results weren't a reflection of the areas' general health, but highlighted some trends.

"Our research does find higher concentrations of unhealthy businesses exist in places which already experience high levels of deprivation and premature mortality," she said.

Following the results of the survey, the Society called for local councils to be given greater powers to restrict the number of these "unhealthy" businesses appearing on the UK's High Streets. It said there should be a maximum of 5% of each type of "unhealthy" business on the High Street.

A government spokesperson said the government had introduced measures to stem the tide of a "sea of payday loan and betting shops" from appearing on the High Street.

Peter Craske from the Association of British Bookmakers, said: "We've been trading on the High Street for fifty years, and we employ 40,000 people and serve over eight million customers.

"The majority of our shops have been in the same location for over 20 years and as with any other retailer we open because there are customers for our products."