Scotland tops binge-drink league

More than a third of Scots admitted binge-drinking. Picture: Getty

More than a third of Scots admitted binge-drinking. Picture: Getty

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SCOTS are among those most likely to binge-drink in the UK, new figures have shown.

Scotland topped the binge-drinking table, matched only by the north-east of England, according to data for 2013 from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Some 36 per cent of people living in the two areas admitted binge-drinking in the week before the survey was conducted – higher than in any other part of the UK.

Across the country, the proportion of the population binge-drinking – defined as regularly exceeding 3-4 units of alcohol a day for men, and 2-3 units for women – fell from 18 per cent to 15 per cent.

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The fall was partly because fewer adults chose to drink alcohol and partly because when people did drink, they consumed less. However, the ONS said it was difficult to explain regional differences with any particular factor.

The figures showed an increase in the number of Scots who do not drink at all, with, 21 per cent of Scottish adults surveyed saying they were teetotal.

The proportion of non-drinkers in Scotland was higher than in many other parts of the UK, beaten only by London, the West Midlands and Wales.

The ONS figures suggested 21 per cent of UK adults had cut alcohol from their diets, up from 19 per cent in 2005. There was also a rise in the proportion of teetotal 16-24 year-olds, increasing from 19 per cent in 2005 to 27 per cent in 2013.

The ONS said the increase in non-drinkers between 2005 and 2013 was “a result of changes among younger adults, with little or no change in older groups”.

Barbara O’Donnell, deputy chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, said: “It is encouraging to see that people are choosing to drink less alcohol, less often, and that it’s young people who are primarily responsible for this change.

“However, it is concerning that more people report binge drinking in Scotland compared with other regions.”

Ms O’Donnell added: “Scotland also has the highest rate of alcohol-related deaths in Britain, which is why we need minimum pricing.

“A minimum unit price of 50p will make cheap, strong alcohol less affordable to the vulnerable, younger and heavier drinkers who are more likely to drink it and suffer the consequences.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “There are clearly encouraging aspects to these figures, including the fact more people in Scotland are not drinking at all, especially in the 18 to 25 age groups.

“But while it is positive to see alcohol consumption levels falling, in Scotland binge drinking remains a problem and we drink nearly a fifth more alcohol than our counterparts in ­England and Wales.”

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