The Scottish Social Attitudes (SSA) survey, run annually by Edinburgh-based ScotCen Social Research, also found nearly half (44 per cent) of Scots feel heavy smokers are ultimately responsible for their addiction.
However, opinions from the 1,130 respondents randomly selected from 1,043 addresses differ significantly across gender, age and class lines.
Men were more likely than women to agree people who are heavy smokers (48 per cent compared with 39 per cent) and people who are overweight or obese ‘have only themselves to blame’ (34 per cent compared with 22 per cent).
Similarly, people aged 65 and older were more likely to agree (35 per cent) than younger adults aged 16-34 (20 per cent) that people who are overweight or obese are solely responsible for their condition.
Meanwhile, those with no qualifications were more likely than those educated to at least degree level to agree people have only themselves to blame across all three health issues.
Nearly half (47 per cent) of respondents with no qualifications felt that way about people with serious drinking problems, as opposed to just 15 per cent of respondents educated to degree level.
The same attitudes were expressed regarding heavy smokers (70 per cent with no qualifications versus 42 per cent with a degree) and those who are overweight or obese (49 per cent with no qualifications versus 26 per cent with a degree”.
The report read: “Addressing stigma is considered a policy priority for the Scottish Government as it is seen as a barrier to health improvement agendas, including around weight, alcohol use and smoking. It is recognised that stigma comes in many guises, including self-stigmatisation and workforce stigma.”
While the prevalence of smoking in Scotland has reduced dramatically, from 28 per cent of people in 2003 to 11 per cent in 2021, the issues of obesity and drinking continue to affect the nation.
The report’s authors state: “Scotland’s relationship with alcohol is widely perceived as harmful by the general public.”
An Ipsos Mori poll of adults in Great Britain carried out in August 2022 highlighted the public believes the nation’s drinking culture is “one of its worst attributes”. And in 2013, 84 per cent of respondents to a previous SSA survey stated they felt alcohol caused “a great deal” or “quite a lot of harm” in Scotland and the majority of people felt hazardous and binge drinking was “problematic”.
Meanwhile, Scotland has one of the highest rates of adults living with overweight and obesity among OECD nations. In 2021, 67 per cent of adults in Scotland were living overweight and 30 per cent were living with obesity.
While the proportion of overweight adults in Scotland has remained relatively stable since 2008, there has been a small increase in the mean BMI of adults from 2003 to 2021.
“Those who held views about individual responsibility were shown to be consistent in their views across alcohol and smoking behaviour, and drugs,” the report’s authors argue. “Thus there may be some benefit across the different health issues if one area implements policy that addresses stigmatising views.”