MEN and women in Bolton live a “healthy” life for about three years less than the English national average, according to new figures.

A healthy life expectancy (HLE) study from the Office of National Statistics shows Bolton men can expect to live free from serious illness for just 60.5 years and women for 61.7 years.

Bolton’s 2010 to 2012 figures, which are the latest available, are lower than the 63.5 years and 64.8 years recorded for men and women respectively nationally.

The town’s HLE has also dropped by about a year since the last figures were compiled in 2009.

Health bosses cited rising obestiy and alcohol consumption as reasons for Bolton people developing health problems earlier in life.

Bolton Council’s director of Public Health said they are working to narrow the gap and that Bolton has “pockets of deprivation” which contributed to the figures.

The figures are down from 61.7 for men and 62.4 for women in 2009-11, although Bolton Council and NHS Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) stressed they are incomparable because of changes in gathering them.

Director of Public Health, Wendy Meredith, said: “We recognise the HLE and the life expectancy for Bolton residents is slightly below the national average and we are constantly working to improve these and narrow the gap.

“Bolton is a diverse place with extremes of social affluence and pockets of deprivation, which contribute to the way we compare to the national average.

“What we can see is that we are performing better than our statistical neighbours with one year more healthy life expectancy than the 15 areas most similar to Bolton.

“We will continue to work with our partners to improve everyone’s health in the borough.”

Bolton’s figures were better than those in North, Central and South Manchester, as well as Salford and Oldham and were broadly similar to Wigan and Tameside and Glossop.

They lagged well below the HLE expected in Stockport, Trafford and Bury, however.

Dr Stephen Liversedge, clinical director for primary care and health improvement at the CCG, said: “Rising levels of obesity, increasing consumption of alcohol, a more sedentary lifestyle, and poor diets have contributed to greater chances of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer.

“We have been working with GPs for some time now to ensure that long-term health problems are diagnosed promptly and managed effectively.

“The Big Bolton Healthcheck and our Preventing Diabetes project are identifying those at risk before they develop a potentially debilitating condition.”

Bolton’s life expectancy at birth is now 77.4 years for men and 81.4 for women, compared to 79.2 and 83 nationally.

Across the UK, the lowest healthy life expectancy was recorded in Bradford, with the highest in Guildford and Waverley.