Regional risk factors for health inequalities in Scotland and England and the "Scottish effect"

Soc Sci Med. 2009 Sep;69(5):761-7. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2009.06.044. Epub 2009 Jul 31.


This paper uses data from the Scottish Health Survey 2003 and the comparable Health Survey for England 2003 to look at whether Scotland's poor health image and mortality profile is reflected in regional inequalities in prevalence of four risk factors for cardiovascular disease: fruit and vegetable consumption, smoking, obesity and diabetes. It also looks at the "Scottish effect" - how much of any difference between and within Scotland and England remains once socio-demographic factors have been taken in to account. The paper then uses regional analyses to determine the extent to which areas within England and Scotland contribute to their national health advantage and disadvantage. All 2003 strategic health authorities in England and Scottish health boards were compared with Greater Glasgow health board as the reference category. The results showed that significant geographic variation in the risk factors remained once individual economic status was taken into account, but the relationship was complex and varied in strength and direction depending upon risk factor involved and gender of respondent. A small number of areas had significantly lower odds of fruit and vegetable consumption of five portions or more a day in men, compared with Greater Glasgow. In contrast some areas had significantly higher odds of fruit and vegetable consumption for women compared with Greater Glasgow. There was greater geographic variation in the odds of smoking in women than in men. Respondents in the south west and southeast of England (areas which usually show health advantage) did not show significantly lower odds of smoking compared with Greater Glasgow once socio-economic variation, age and urban residence was taken into account. It was respondents from central England that had lower odds of smoking than might be expected. Obesity stood out as the single risk factor that had demonstrated a "Scottish effect" in women only.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology
  • Diet / adverse effects
  • England / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Fruit
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Scotland / epidemiology
  • Sex Distribution
  • Sex Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Vegetables
  • Young Adult