Obesity-related hospital admissions are significantly higher in the North East than anywhere else in the country.
Data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) for 2012/13 reveals that the North East had the highest primary admission rate in the country, at 73 per 100,000 population. This is more than triple the England average at 21 per 100,000.
A number of areas in the region polled particularly badly with County Durham Primary Care Trust having the highest rate of admissions in England at 103 per 100,000. Sunderland, South Tyneside and Gateshead also made the top 11.
County Durham’s public health team said they are aware of the rates of obesity and are looking at interventions to tackle the issue.
A spokesman for Public Health England said: “The figures do not come as a surprise as the North East has had high levels of obesity for a number of years.
“We know that deprivation and lifestyle choices are factors – but unfortunately, there is no simple solution for reducing obesity.
“It is an issue that requires action at national, local, family and individual level.”
Female primary admissions in the North East were almost three times the number of male admissions, at 106 compared to 38 respectively.
South Tyneside Primary Care Trust had the highest rate of primary diagnosis admission for men in the country at 61 per 100,000.
Meanwhile, the North East had the highest number of patients admitted for weight-loss bariatric surgery at 39 per 100,000 of the population.
Many areas in the North East have seen a rise in the primary diagnosis admission rate since 2011/12. Yet public health experts insist money is being invested to address the issue.
Carole Wood, director of public health at Gateshead Council, said: “We invest over £1.1m every year to target obesity and promote healthy weight. We are currently remodelling the services we provide and are preparing to commission an integrated lifestyle service that offers one-to-one support to children and families and promotes healthy life choices and active lifestyles.”
Nationally, across all ages, obesity admissions were lower for every age group except the under-16s and those aged 65 and over.
Leading North East fitness trainer, David Fairlamb, said: “It is very disappointing to keep hearing statistics like this, but sadly it is not a surprise.
“Unless people look after themselves and look at what they’re eating obesity will continue to be a problem.
“In the North East high obesity levels can be due to high levels of unemployment and a different culture.
“We are at a critical point, and councils have to work together to deal with the issue.”