Health report backs Scotland's 'sick man of Europe' tag

Health report backs Scotland's 'sick man of Europe' tag
Health report backs Scotland's 'sick man of Europe' tag

Scots drink more, smoke more and have poorer diets than people across the rest of the UK, an official report found on Tuesday.

Public Health Minister Shona Robison said more action is needed to tackle the problems set out in the Scottish Health Survey, which also found that Scotland has higher obesity levels.

Opposition leaders said Scotland must lose its "sick man of Europe" tag.

About 44% of men in Scotland are likely to have drank more than four units of alcohol on their heaviest drinking day, compared with 41% in England, the survey finds. This is about two pints of medium-strength beer or four glasses of wine.

A higher proportion of women in Scotland (36%) than England (32%) drank more than three units on their heaviest drinking day in the last week. The survey also found that 27% of men in Scotland smoked compared with 24% in England.

The equivalent figures for women were 25% and 20%. Women in Scotland were also more likely to smoke than women in Wales (22%).

Ms Robison said: "Scotland historically has an appalling health record. For generations, far too many people have died before their time with our culture of poor diet, heavy drinking and smoking all taking their toll.

"That's why we're taking action to improve our nation's health and it is heartening that we are seeing improvements in many areas.

"But, as today's statistics show, other parts of the UK are still doing better and this clearly demonstrates that we can, and must, do more to help Scots live healthy lives."

The report compared the most recently-published health surveys in the four UK countries. It also found fruit and vegetable consumption was significantly lower in Scotland than in England for both men and women.

A higher proportion of men and women were overweight, including obese, in Scotland than in England or Northern Ireland. Only 20% of men and 24% of women in Scotland ate the recommended five or more portions of fruit and vegetables a day compared with 25% of men and 29% of women in England.

The amount of women overweight, including obesity, was significantly higher in Scotland (61.8%) than in England (56.9%) or Northern Ireland (54%).

Liberal Democrat public health spokesman Jamie Stone said: "These comparisons make for grim reading for Scotland. The Scottish Government has to tackle the root causes of obesity. That means improving diets and getting more Scots active. Scotland doesn't have to be the sick man of the UK."

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