WOMEN in Barnsley live longer than men - but the life expectancy for men is improving at a faster rate.

Figures from public health show women in Barnsley live on average 80.9 years and men live for 77.4 years, compared to 82.9 and 78.9 years nationally.

There is a variation in life expectancy across the borough with up to 6.1 years' difference between the area with the highest and lowest life expectancy for men and a gap of 7.6 years for women.

Sharon Stoltz, director of public health, said it was unknown why women appear to live longer, but said it could possibly be down to changing lifestyles over the last ten to 20 years.

"Women on average live longer than men, but the gap is narrowing faster for men than it is for women.

"In some ways, women have started behaving like men. More women have taken up smoking, drinking more alcohol and more women are obese.

"All these risk factors contribute, especially if the woman does little exercise.

"Having said that, women are living longer than they were 10 or 20 years ago - probably because of advances in medical science and treatment."

She said the aim was to narrow the gap between the Barnsley and national averages, and that it was important to get the message across to people to look after their health.