Statistics showed that baby boys born in Scotland between 2006 and 2008 can expect to live to the age of 75, while baby girls have a life expectancy of 79.9 years.

That is higher than it was 10 years ago, when life expectancy rates for males were 72.4 years and for females were 78.1 years.

However, the figures are still lower than the UK average of 77.3 years for men and 81.7 years for women.

Public Health Minister Shona Robison said: "Health in Scotland is improving but not quickly enough and unacceptable inequalities continue to blight the lives of our most deprived communities."

Scottish men and women also have among the worst rates of life expectancy at birth in Europe. Life expectancy for Scottish men is currently 0.8 years below the European average, while for women it is two years lower than the EU average.

For both sexes life expectancy in Scotland is four-and-a-half years lower than those countries where life expectancy is greatest.

The figures, which were published by the Registrar General for Scotland, also showed the length of time people could expect to live varied across Scotland.

East Dunbartonshire had the highest life expectancy rates at birth, with baby boys born there in 2006 to 2008 expected to live to the age of 78, while baby girls there have a life expectancy of 82.5 years.

However in the Glasgow City Council area, life expectancy rates for both males and females were the lowest in Scotland, at 70.7 years for males and 77.2 for females.

There are only two local authority areas in Scotland where female life expectancy is above the UK average, East Renfrewshire and East Dunbartonshire.

Just four council areas -- East Renfrewshire, Aberdeenshire, Perth and Kinross and East Dunbartonshire -- have an average male life expectancy at birth which is higher than the UK average.

Ms Robison said: "The removal of health inequalities will not be achieved overnight. But these statistics show that this government’s commitment to tackling these as a matter of priority is both right and, I believe, achievable."

She said the government had taken "significant action" to tackle drinking and smoking and to encourage people to eat more healthily and take more exercise.

The minister added that a report from a special ministerial task force on health inequalities had "shifted the emphasis of our approach from dealing with the consequences of health inequalities to tackling the underlying causes such as poverty, employment, support for families and improving physical and social environments".

Ms Robison stressed: "Nobody should be condemned to a life of ill health because of where they live or their family’s background. Poor health is not inevitable and we should not accept it."

The figures also showed that the gap between life expectancy for males and females had continued to close, going from 5.6 years 10 years ago to 4.9 years in the latest figures.