Healthy life years varied more than life expectancy, with a range for men from 9.1 years in Estonia to 23.6 years in Denmark and for women from 10.4 years in Estonia to 24.1 years in Denmark. According to a BBC report on the study:
Lead researcher Professor Carol Jagger, from Leicester University, said: "What we have here, for the very first time, is data we can really compare.Sources: Lancet "Inequalities in healthy life years in the 25 countries of the European Union in 2005: a cross-national meta-regression analysis" (November 17, 2008); BBC News "Periods of healthy old age 'vary'" (November 17, 2008)
"And it really questions whether the countries with the longest life expectancies are the healthiest.
"In the case of the UK, we are looking pretty average, but slightly better than our life expectancy figures suggest."
She said that the figures might be useful to governments who are trying to work out the number of older people able to remain working, or who will need health care.