Falkirk playing catch up in age race

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Life expectancy is on the rise - but Falkirk men and women will die younger than those in other parts of Scotland.

The average woman in the area will live to be 80.3 and men 76.4, according to 2008-10 figures.

That puts Falkirk 24th out of 36 community health partnership areas for women and 19th for men.

The average age a man lives to has increased from 73.3, with 78.4 for women in 1998-2000. But the figures put Falkirk in the bottom half of the table for life expectancy in Scotland.

The table released by the General Register Office shows the age a Scot can expect to live to varies greatly depending on where they are from.

Those from East Dunbartonshire live longest at 82.7 and 79.4 years, while people from Glasgow will die youngest with women living until they are 78 and men just 71.7.

The longest-living people in the UK come from England with Scots dying the youngest of the four nations.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Government admitted action was needed to address health inequalities between deprived and affluent areas.

They added: “These long-standing problems cannot be addressed overnight but we are taking, and will continue to take, significant action to address them through our efforts to reduce alcohol consumption, cut smoking rates, encourage active living and healthy eating, and promote positive mental health.

“Equally Well, the Report of the Ministerial Task Force on Health Inequalities, has already shifted the emphasis of our approach from dealing with the consequences of health inequalities to tackling the underlying causes such as poverty, employment, support for families and improving physical and social environments.”

However Labour claims the government is not doing enough to narrow health inequalities between the haves and the have-nots.

The party’s health spokeswoman, Jackie Baillie, said: “How long you live should not be determined by the postcode you are born in.

It is a scandal that health inequality remains so stubbornly linked to income levels, poverty and deprivation. Poverty traps too many too early and remains too persistent to be tolerated in a country that aspires to brighter, healthier and fairer.”

She added “With Scots continuing to have the lowest life expectancy in the whole of the UK, these figures should serve as a wake-up call for the SNP government to redouble its efforts to tackle poverty.”