OBESITY rates among adults in the North East are the highest in England, according to new statistics.
The NHS Information Centre findings show that 9.3% of the population in the area over 16 are obese, compared to an England average of 7.6%, putting the region ahead of all others in the country.
The results, which are the most recent available, also show that 33% of boys and 32% of girls in the North East are overweight or obese.
Prof Stephen Singleton, Regional Director of Public Health, said: “We already know that both adults and children in the North East are among the most overweight in the country.
“It’s really important that people take responsibility for their own health and prevent serious diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease that being overweight can lead to.”
Adults classed as obese have a body mass index of 30 or more.
A spokesperson for NHS North of Tyne added: “Health professionals working closely with local authorities and other organisations interested in health and well-being are already aware of the huge challenges we have in the North East with both childhood and adult obesity.
“We are working hard to bring down the levels of obesity among children and adults in our area.
“We know that being overweight or obese is a significant factor in ill health and the local NHS, along with organisations including local councils, children and their parents can work together to help people become healthier.
“Without help, overweight children will become overweight or obese adults and will be at increased risk of heart attacks, high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke.”
The report also found more people should be worried about the size of their waists, which indicates a health risk. In 2007, 34% of men in the North East had a potentially unhealthy girth, more than 102cm (40.16ins), and 38% of women.
And nationally only 27% of men, 31% of women, and 21% of children were eating their recommended five portions of fruit a day.
The information comes a day after research showed a rising tide of obesity in the UK was fuelling an increase in cases of diabetes.
The findings suggest that the rate of diabetes in the UK is increasing faster than in the US, where prevalence of the disease is one of the highest in the world.
Health campaigners say eating a healthy, balanced diet and doing at least 30 minutes of physical activity is the only way of defusing the “diabetes time bomb”.
The Department of Health has set up its Change4Life campaign to encourage people to eat well, move more and live longer.
Public Health Minister Dawn Primarolo said: “Obesity is the biggest health challenge we face – we are taking tough action and are investing £372m to address it.
“Our Change4Life campaign, launched in January, has kick-started a lifestyle revolution to help every family eat better and be more active.
“Whether to prescribe drugs or recommend surgery is rightly a clinical decision.
“Guidance on obesity recommends that drugs and surgery should always be a last resort – a better diet and more exercise should be tried first.”
:: 9.3% of adults are obese
:: 33% of boys and...
:: 32% of girls are obese
:: 34% of men and....
:: 38% of women have a high waist circumference
:: 421 people were admitted to hospital with a primary diagnosis of obesity in 2007/08
:: 217 people had weight loss surgery in 2007/08