I’ve recently joined the board of Barony Housing Association, which is part of the Wheatley Group, and consequently was invited to a institutional lecture by Prof Sir Harry Burns, who was considering mortality statistics in Scotland and the UK. He made the case that, despite the emphasis on nutrition in much of what’s written about public health, nutrition is not at the core of the problems. Scotland’s nutrition-related mortality follows a pattern, astonishingly, which is not much different from Finland’s. Finland has an exemplary nutritional policy and lots of virtuous practices, and Scotland (notoriously) doesn’t.
The real difference in mortality, he argued, occurs in younger age groups; and the primary issues for the mortality of younger adults are drugs, alcohol, violence and suicide. All of which are social.