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Scotland, a nation known for its feats of strength, is gradually sliding in a self-created tomb of poor health. High alcohol consumption, obesity, lack of adequate exercise, and eating junk food is leading to atrocious levels of illness in Scotland. The chief medical officer of Scotland, Dr. Burns, has warned in his annual report that poor diet, obesity, physical inactivity, and high alcohol consumption is leading to increased health problems in Scotland.
He pointed to figures reported in the Scottish Health Survey which indicated that 27 percent of men and 18 percent of women exceeded the recommended weekly amount of alcohol consumption. Smoking among adults is decreasing, but 25 percent of adults still smoke cigarettes, and 63.3 percent of adults are either overweight or obese. Only 22 percent of adults met the recommended daily intake of fruit and vegetables a day, and only 39 percent of adults met the recommended levels of physical activity.
Despite a reported reduction in consumption of alcohol from 28 percent in 1995 to 22 percent in 2010, the level of those who exceed the daily amount of alcohol consumption has risen among men from 43 percent to 45 percent, and for women, it fell from 37 percent to 33 percent. He also noted that the data on alcohol consumption is conflicting, i.e comparing purchase data and consumption data.
However, alcohol purchase data indicates that consumption is on the increase. New hospital admissions due to alcohol-related conditions for people under 75 has increased by 18 percent in the last decade. Alcohol-related deaths for those aged 45-74 was also reported to be nine times more in deprived areas than in affluent areas.
On a positive note, the mortality rates due to Scotland’s big three killers: cancer, coronary heart disease (CHD), and stroke for people under 75 have continued to decline. Premature death rates due to cancer, CHD, and stroke have been reduced by 22 percent, 60 percent, and 54 percent respectively .
Premature mortality rates due to all other cases for those under 75 have been reduced by 28 percent ( from 507 per 100,000 in 1995 to 365 per 100,000 in 2009). Increased survival rates from cancer have been influenced by effective treatment, early diagnosis, and more people have been cured of cancer. Five year survival from cancer over the last two decades rose from 26 percent to 44 percent for men and from 36 percent to 51 percent for women.
Less affluent areas were shown to display more of these risky behaviors. Mental health problems are also becoming worse in deprived areas and among the working class. The lower display of risky behavior among the affluent is largely due to available information from health promotion campaigns which has, for some reason, remained largely ignored in the other sections of the society. Dr. Burns warned, “Scotland continues to have a higher level of ill health than most of our immediate neighbors in Europe.”