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New alcohol study shows Scots outdrink rest of Britain

New alcohol study shows Scots outdrink rest of Britain

It turns out Scots' drink of choice really is whisky.

The age-old stereotype has been reinforced by a new study, revealing spirits account for 29 per cent of alcohol sales in the area. It also dubbed Central Scotland as Britain's biggest drinkers, with the rest of the Scotland not far behind.

The study, published in the BMC Public Health Journal, claims Central Scotland consume, on average, 20.9 units a week - the equivalent of more than two bottles of wine (or, if you want to indulge the stereotype, one bottle of whisky).

The same study showed total alcohol sales in Central Scotland, accounting for 70 per cent of all Scots, are 18 per cent higher than the rest of the country.

The difference between the Central Scotland - which includes Edinburgh, Glasgow and the west of Scotland - and the rest of country comes down to just 2.5 units per week (amounting to one more can of beer or large glass of wine per week).

But, the study shows, it's not just a matter of pointing out that Scots drink more than their counterparts south of the border.

Combining alcohol sales with alcohol-related deaths, it notes that figures "suggest regional-specific factors affect the consumption-harm relationship".

Despite an NHS Health Scotland report published last year claiming alcohol-related deaths have fallen by 35% since 2003, the study shows 24.5 people per 100,000 are still dying from alcohol in Central Scotland.

  (2015 Robinson et al.; licensee BioMed Central)
via STV via STV

Alcohol-related mortality (age/sex standardised) and per adult alcohol consumption, 2010–11. Robinson et al. BMC Public Health 2015 15:1 doi:10.1186/1471-2458-15-1

That figure is higher than anywhere else in Britain, with the rest of Scotland showing 16.2 alcohol-related deaths per 100,000 people.

Barbara O'Donnell, deputy chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, said: "This study is further evidence of the relationship between alcohol consumption and alcohol harm.

"Regions where people buy and drink more alcohol, like Central Scotland, have higher alcohol-related deaths."

It's a stark contrast to London, which has the lowest level of alcohol mortality in Britain, where 9.4 people per 100,000 die of alcohol-related causes.

The city shows London buys most of its alcohol at bars, hotels and restaurants, while Scotland accounted for the majority of its alcohol purchases from shops and supermarkets.

O'Donnell added: "This study uses sales to measure consumption instead of relying on people reporting how much they drink.

"This is why previous studies have been unable to explain the differences between alcohol harm experienced in Scotland and England, as it appeared we drank almost the same."

However, Scotland wasn't alone. From the 11 regions covered in the study, Yorkshire and the south-west, north-east and north-west of England all showed above-average levels of alcohol sales per head.

While the Scottish Government's Alcohol Act - which came into force in 2011 and cracked down on alcohol promotions - has helped target "alcohol upselling", Alcohol Focus Scotland say there's still more to be done.

O'Donnell said: "Action on the affordability and accessibility of alcohol is essential to reduce the devastating impact on individuals, families and communities across the UK."

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