People in central Scotland are more likely to die from alcohol-related causes than those in comparable parts of northern England, according to an NHS study.
Sales of alcohol per person were 13 per cent higher than in north-east England and deaths were 67 per cent higher, according to research at NHS Health Scotland and the Glasgow Centre for Population Health.
Compared with north-west England, sales in central Scotland were 12 per cent higher and deaths were 47 per cent higher.
The research is based on data for 2010 and 2011.
Mark Robinson, public health information manager at NHS Health Scotland and study leader, said: “The regions were chosen on the basis that they had high alcohol-related death rates compared with the rest of Great Britain and were also de-industrialised and relatively deprived.
“By comparing these regions using the best available data, the results provide support for the well-established link between population alcohol consumption and alcohol-related mortality.”
Report co-author Dr Deborah Shipton, public health research specialist at the Glasgow Centre for Population Health, said: “Until now we have had to rely on self-report surveys to compare consumption levels in Scotland with those in northern England. These have generally shown little difference between areas.
“The sales data used in this study are considered the gold standard and will be essential for evaluating the impact of different alcohol policy approaches north and south of the Border.”
For the report’s purposes, central Scotland takes in much of the central belt, Ayrshire, west and central Fife, Argyll and parts of the south-west Highlands.
Researchers said it is the first time that such alcohol sales data has been used to estimate consumption for areas of Britain.
The clearest difference is the “substantially higher” level of spirits sold in supermarkets and off-licences in central Scotland. This was partly offset by about 10 per cent higher levels of beer consumption in northern England.
Sales of spirits were 66 per cent higher per head than in north-east England and 59 per cent higher than in north-west England. More alcohol is sold per person and there are more alcohol-related deaths in north-east and north-west England than in England and Wales overall, the report also found.
Minister for public health Michael Matheson said the report again emphasised the scale of the harm being caused by alcohol misuse.
He said the Scottish Government remained committed to minimum unit pricing “which will save hundreds of lives, prevent thousands of hospital admissions, reduce crime and save the public purse millions”.