Drink choice ‘linked to location’

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Published: Wednesday 7th January 2015 by The News Editor

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It is well known that Scots enjoy a dram while Yorkshiremen prefer a pint, but a new study proves that your choice of tipple really does depend on where you live.

A survey of alcohol sales across 10 British regions suggests beer consumption is highest in the North of England and Yorkshire and the most cider is bought by people in the West Country.

Scots, meanwhile, are the biggest consumers of spirits including whisky and vodka.

The data was gathered and analysed for the first time by NHS Health Scotland to look at patterns of alcohol consumption and alcohol-related deaths.

Central Scotland, Yorkshire and the North East and North West of England reported sales higher than the British average.

People in London and central and eastern England purchased the least alcohol, according to the figures.

Spirits sales accounted for 29% of the market share in Scotland compared with less than 20% in the rest of the country.

Scotland also sold the most alcohol via shops and supermarkets (up to 74%) as opposed to bars, hotels and restaurants. In London the off-sales figure was much lower at 62%.

The study confirmed that regions with higher sales per person typically had higher rates of alcohol-related deaths.

The exception is the West Country, where strong alcohol sales in the tourism hotspots of Devon and Cornwall did not translate to more deaths.

“People who visit this area but do not live there would increase the sales figures for alcohol and would not show up for alcohol-related deaths”, the study said.

The data was gathered by market research companies, while previous studies relied on people themselves reporting how much alcohol they consume.

The study said: ” The high volume of alcohol sold per adult in the South West is driven by on-trade sales of cider and spirits and off-trade wine sales.

“In Scottish regions, a much higher volume of spirits is sold than elsewhere in Great Britain. Sales in northern England are above average and are characterised by high beer sales, while London has the lowest consumption, attributable to low off-trade sales across most drink types.”

NHS Health Scotland’s Mark Robinson, who led the research, said: “Our study provides support for the relationship between alcohol consumption and alcohol-related mortality across regions in Great Britain, which hasn’t always been the case using survey data to estimate consumption.

“Future studies should consider the use of data from a range of different sources to provide a better understanding of alcohol consumption in Great Britain, its relationship with alcohol-related harms and the impact of different alcohol policy approaches.”

:: The research is published in the BMC Public Health journal and can be viewed online at www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/15/1.

Published: Wednesday 7th January 2015 by The News Editor

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