The Western Isles and Greater Glasgow are rated as being among the worst five areas in the UK for life-expectancy rates, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
While the two areas may appear to have very different lifestyles, Rhoda Grant, Labour MSP for the Highlands and Islands, said they actually have a number of cultural factors in common which affect health and wellbeing.
Glasgow City’s life-expectancy rate for men is 71.1 while for the Western Isles it is 73.5 years.
“There is a real male-female divide in the Western Isles. Some of the more traditional areas can be far less healthy with men drinking and smoking to excess similar to those in Glasgow City,” said Ms Grant.
“It is not seen as macho to be taking care of your health in the same way as women. Women in the Western Isles are much more switched on to looking after themselves and tend not to be involved in the ladette culture of heavy smoking and drinking.”
Ms Grant added that the funding allocations given to health boards did not compensate for deprivation and rurality, meaning that health boards in remote areas could not make the same savings as other health boards, a factor which impacted on life expectancy.
Women in the Western Isles have a life expectancy of 82 years - not far off the highest rate of 83.1 years for East Dunbartonshire. Glasgow City’s rate for women is 77.5 years.
For Edinburgh City, life expectancy for men and women in 2007-9 was 76.9 and 81.5 years respectively.