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Thursday, 27 September, 2001, 00:48 GMT 01:48 UK
Scots 'unhealthiest in UK'
Watching TV is a popular habit for Scots
Watching TV is a popular habit for Scots
Scotland is the unhealthiest part of the UK, according to a national survey.

Scots take more sick days, suffer more cancer and heart disease - and are more likely to have a "couch potato" lifestyle - than people in the rest of the UK.

The figures, depicting regional trends, were published by the Office of National Statistics on Thursday.

They give an up-to-date picture of regional differences in health, across the country, as well as trends in income, housing costs and unemployment.

Scotland's health is getting better. However, we are aware that there is more to do

Spokesman for the Scottish Executive
A spokesman for the Scottish Executive admitted there was more work to be done to improve Scots' health.

But he said Scotland's health was getting better.

On the same day, Scotland's Chief Medical Officer Dr Mac Armstrong launched the Health in Scotland 2000 report.

He highlighted the fact women were smoking and drinking more than ever before, and warned they should not try to "keep up with the lads."

Scottish women watched an average of 31 hours of television per week last year, with men watching nearly 28 hours - both over two hours more than the national average.

Scots also spent the most per person on drinks and confectionery, and on cooked meat products such as pies and sausage rolls.

They are also far more likely to take sick days. Scotland lost 136 working days per every 1,000 employees, compared to just one day in the south west.

Women in London watched around 25 hours, and men in the east of England 22 hours - the lowest figures for TV viewing.

Londoners were also the healthiest eaters, spending the most on vegetables and fruit.

They also ate out at restaurants the most, while people in Yorkshire and Humberside ate out the least.

Heart health differences

The statistics showed a striking north-south divide in people's health.

Figures for 1999 show the mortality rate for ischaemic heart disease for women in the South East, South West, London and Eastern NHS regions was less than 170 deaths per 100,000 population.

But in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the North West, the rates were 210.

Women in the south west were the least likely to contract lung cancer, but the most likely to get breast cancer.

South Yorkshire, the East Midlands and South Humberside had the lowest rates of breast and prostate cancer.

Women in Scotland have over 50% higher chance of getting lung cancer than the national average.

Women in the south west have a 30% lower chance.

One disease that bucks the regional trend is breast cancer, with women in the south west having an 11.2% higher chance of developing it. Wales and Scotland had the highest mortality rates, with 11.9 deaths per 1,000 people and 11.8 deaths per 1,000 respectively.

London had the lowest rate of 8.5 per 1,000.

Milton Keynes had the lowest death rate of any town or city, and Conwy in north Wales had the highest.

'Getting better'

A Scottish Executive spokesperson said:  "Scotland's health is getting better.  However, we are aware that there is more to do."

He said heart disease and cancer were clinical priorities for the Scottish NHS.

He said initiatives were also planned to improve Scots' diet and exercise levels.

But he added: "Improving health requires action across a broader front too. 

"It is not just a task for the NHS. That is why our social justice agenda is targeting efforts at the root causes of ill-health - poverty, unemployment, poor housing, poor education and a whole range of difficult but important issues."

See also:

11 May 01 | Health
Poverty raises heart attack risk
23 Feb 01 | Health
Northerners 'lead shorter lives'
14 Jan 01 | Health
Postcode lottery in death rates
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