Obesity-related hospital admissions in Northamptonshire are among the highest in the UK, new figures show.
NHS England medical director Professor Stephen Powis said the latest "shocking" data, which show obesity-related admissions have risen by nearly a fifth nationally, are a growing sign that an obesity crisis is sweeping the nation.
NHS Digital revealed that in Northamptonshire, there were 23,865 hospital admissions where obesity was a primary or secondary factor between April 1, 2019, and December 31 last year — an increase of more than 13 percent from the previous year's 21,080.
That works out to 3,321 in every 100,000 residents – the highest rate in the East Midlands and up from the previous year's figure of 2,959.
Just three years earlier, in 2016, the rate was 1,367.
Women accounted for more than three in five obesity-related hospital cases in Northamptonshire in 2019-20, the figures reveal.
Nationally, there were just over one million admissions due to obesity in 2019-20 – up 17 percent from 2018-19, and equating to rate of 1,869 in every 100,000 people.
There was huge disparity in rates across England, with the most deprived areas worse affected than those with low deprivation levels.
The East Midlands had the highest rate of the country's nine regions, with a rate of 2,592 per 100,000 population — nearly double the South East rate of 1,382.
NHS Digital said some of the overall rise may be due to better reporting of data.
But Prof Powis warned the nation's "obesity crisis" is putting hundreds of thousands of people at greater risk of becoming severely ill with Covid, as well as heart attacks, stroke, cancer and other deadly diseases.
He added: "Carrying extra pounds not only puts a strain on your physical health, but also on the health service."
"As lockdown restrictions start to ease, there has never been a better time to take steps to live a healthier lifestyle."
The Government has announced a raft of new measures to help tackle obesity, including a ban on junk food adverts online and calories on menus for meals.
Diabetes UK, which has campaigned for menu calorie labelling as part of its Food Upfront campaign, welcomed the move.
Helen Kirrane, the charity's head of policy, campaigns and mobilisation, said: "Obesity is the single greatest risk factor for type 2 diabetes. There are an estimated 13.6 million people at increased risk of developing the condition in the UK.
"We are glad that the Government has committed to making large takeaway, cafe and restaurant chains in England label the food they sell. This will hopefully lead to improved menus and healthier options.
“We hope it will bring these large businesses more in line with the food retail sector when it comes to giving people clear calorie information for the food they buy."