Tuesday 15 September 2015 9:40 am

The North-South life expectancy divide: You'll live around two years longer if you live below Yorkshire

Across the nation, Britons are living much longer than they used to. In fact, new figures released by Public Health England show that average life expectancy has gone up from 75.9 to 81.3 since 1990. 
That's an increase of 5.4 years – a significant improvement that exceeds the gains made my many of our western European neighbours. Details of the findings are published in The Lancet.
The reason, according to the scientists involved in the research, is that Britain is now much better at tackling cardiovascular disease, stroke and other chronic illnesses that hit us in old age.

North-South divide

But while the news sounds like a happy outcome for everyone, there's still a noticeable divide between southern and northern parts of the UK.
The South East has the lowest burden of disease out of all regions, resulting in an average life expectancy of 82.4 in 2013, which is when the last data was available. In Scotland, meanwhile, adults reached an average age of 79.1 in the same year – a difference of over three years.
Looking at the areas falling in-between these two regions, there's a clear gradual improvement from north to south, with London, the South West and the East of England all coming higher than Yorkshire, the North West and the North East. 
In fact, if you live south of Yorkshire and the areas directly to the west of it, you're likely to live between one and two years longer. 
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Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director at The British Heart Foundation, said:
This study shows how successful the UK has been at reducing deaths from cardiovascular and other diseases through the application of research findings on behaviours such as diet and smoking to improve public health.
But the burden of disease remains high in the most disadvantaged sectors of our society and our ageing population is increasingly facing multiple medical problems.
Much would be gained if public health strategies could be devised to address this inequality and raise standards in all regions to match those of the best regions in the UK.