The research was recently published online in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health and has been widely reported in the press; see also an NHS choices review of the reporting and a comment piece on the Addaction blog.
The researchers found that in the 1980s, alcohol-related mortality in Glasgow was 3 times higher than in Manchester and Liverpool. Alcohol-related mortality then increased in all 3 cities over the next 30 years. However there was a sharp rise in deaths in the early 1990s that was unique to Glasgow for which the investigators could find no obvious cause.
Alcohol-related mortality fell in all three cities in the late 2000s, with larger falls in Glasgow. However further analysis showed that this citywide fall in alcohol-related mortality was not universally experienced across all age groups. In the youngest cohort, born in the 1970s, alcohol-related mortality increased across all three cities during this time. This was particularly notable for women, where the relative increase was greater than in men.
Researchers felt that historical rather than current factors drove the excess mortality in Glasgow. They believe policy responses to excess alcohol-related mortality therefore need to address the deep-rooted societal factors as well as the more contemporary factors such as increased alcohol availability and affordability. The negative impact of increased affordability and availability of alcohol on alcohol-related mortality has been well documented.
The Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS) report that in the UK gaps between women's and men's drinking levels is narrowing, with increased wine consumption being a particularly significant factor. In addition, cultural and socioeconomic changes, the increased availability of alcohol in the off-trade, and alcohol advertising campaigns targeting women are also factors according to an IAS factsheet on women and alcohol).Of course overall consumption has been falling since 2004 yet a trend of rising alcohol related hospital admissions continues.
- The latest NHS alcohol statistics for England.
- Joesph Roundtree Foundation report 'Drinking in the UK: an exploration of trends'.
- Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS) 'Alcohol - Drinking in Great Britain'
- Mark Easton's report 'The myths of boozed up Britain'
- The Alcohol Health and Research Unit's 'Future Proof' 2009 report