Daily Archives: 26/01/2015

Alcohol hotspots of Great Britain revealed

This article was in the Daily Mail in early January and reported on some research carried out by NHS Health Scotland in a study looking at the alcohol hotspots of Great Britain.  If you would like to read the research article you can do so here.

The news feature contained this nifty map (click to enlarge) which shows the damage alcohol is causing around the country”.  Edited highlights of the article below:

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The study, by NHS Health Scotland, was the first to analyse alcohol sales data, an indicator of alcohol consumption, as well as alcohol-related deaths.

It found people in the South West, Central Scotland, North East, North West and Yorkshire were the biggest boozers, with higher levels of alcohol sales per adult than the average for Great Britain.

The high volume of sales in South West England (19 per cent higher than the national average) was mostly due to spirits and cider sold through pubs and restaurants, but sales of wine through supermarkets and other off-licences were also high.  However while the South West region had the joint highest consumption level, it had one of the lowest alcohol death rates.  Researchers at NHS Health Scotland and the Glasgow Centre for Population Health suggested that this could be due to tourism.  The South West, which was defined by the study as mainly Devon and Cornwall, had one of the smallest populations but also one of the highest rates of second homes.  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.

There is also a nice table that shows market share percentage of spirits, beer, wine and cider/perry sold in each region too which is interesting and worth a look

All previous studies have looked at alcohol consumption for regions in Great Britain based on self-reported data, which can be biased because of low response rates, the sample taken not being representative, and because people do not accurately report how much they drank.

The use of alcohol sales data is a more accurate and objective way to estimate how much the country is really drinking.

However, researchers warned this data is still subject to its own biases, such as wastage and spillage; consumption by tourists; and unrecorded alcohol, which includes homebrew, smuggled alcohol and alcohol intended for industrial and medical use.

The study’s lead Mark Robinson, of NHS Health Scotland, 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 GB, its relationship with alcohol-related harms, and the impact of different alcohol policy approaches.’

This was an interesting read and I had not even thought of the impact of tourism on rates of consumption locally.  Variation in types of drinks also confirmed regional favourites with Scotland having higher spirits sales, the North more beer,  East Anglia, South East and London more wine and the Southwest more cider and perry.