Less alcohol, less social inequalities

The risk factors for digestive disorders, including alcohol consumption, are socially patterned within most countries, meaning that exposure to these risks and the harm caused by them is to a large extent determined by an individual’s socioeconomic position. Systematic differences in lifestyles between social groups are shaped by structural factors, with those in lower socioeconomic positions having less access to resources and opportunities to achieve healthy lifestyles. Nonetheless behavioural risk factors are still sometimes portrayed as freely chosen–a narrative popular among tobacco, food and alcohol industries which profit from shifting corporate responsibility onto individuals. The introduction of evidence-based alcohol policies in Scotland was a likely contributor to a fall in alcohol related mortality, particularly among the lowest income groups, so health inequality narrowed.