June 11, 2010 / 8:28 AM / 9 years ago

Study shows unhealthy Scots live dangerously

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Almost the entire adult population of Scotland are likely to be either cigarette smokers, heavy drinkers, physically inactive, overweight or have a poor diet, according to a study published on Friday.

Researchers from Glasgow studied data from more than 6,500 people who took part in a 2003 Scottish Health Survey and concluded that 97.5 percent of adults have habits or lifestyles that are dangerous to health.

“Our analysis shows that around two-thirds of the Scottish population is overweight or obese, a similar proportion are not sufficiently physically active, and most people have a poor diet,” said David Conway of the University of Glasgow, who led the study published in the journal BMC Public Health.

He said the most important factors for these unhealthy behaviors were poor education and low income.

The study also found that prevalence of multiple behavioral risk factors was high, with 86 percent of adults having at least two risk factors, 55 percent having three or more risk factors and nearly 20 percent having four or all five.

Conway also warned that since the study was based on people reporting their own behavior, the real situation may be even worse.

“Respondents might tend to give answers that would convey more favorable behaviors,” he wrote in the study.

Ellen Mason, a senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said the study’s findings were worrying.

“If the rest of the country’s population mirrors this large study then it’s fair to say that people in Scotland are not particularly healthy,” she said, adding that similar trends had also been found in England and the rest of Britain.

“We must make sure we continue to raise awareness of risk factors like smoking, obesity, lack of exercise and poor diet so people can improve their lifestyle and reduce their risk of developing heart and circulatory disease,” she said.

Reporting by Kate Kelland, editing by Paul Casciato

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