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Last Updated: Monday, 1 March, 2004, 11:35 GMT
Britain's fattest areas revealed
Researchers say the 'fattest' cities have too many chip shops
Hull is the chubbiest town in Britain - while Kingston upon Thames is the leanest, an obesity league table has revealed.

Data analysts Experian compiled the tables based on hospital admission records for Type 2 diabetes.

The most likely to be overweight were white, working class families who have poor education and do little exercise.

In contrast, people in the leanest towns are more likely to have the money to eat well and exercise.

Hull is the constituency of Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, who himself suffers from Type 2 diabetes.

Two years ago, it was also named as the British town with the highest number of snorers in the UK.

If they are going to buy a loaf of bread, they may well have to choose the cheapest - and that is likely to be a large white loaf, rather than a brown organic one
Dr Marc Farr, Experian
Experian found its Type 2 diabetes rate was 46% worse than the average town.

Kingston upon Thames was 54% better than average.

Around 1.4 million people in UK have Type 2 diabetes, which is strongly linked to obesity, and a further million are thought to have it without realising.

Experts predict the number of cases will double by 2010.

North - south divide

Analysts also looked at Experian's own data on spending patterns, working history, housing, incomes and lifestyles to establish the social make-up of each town and city.

The towns with the poorest health were found to be working-class areas where people tended to be less well educated.

The majority of the worst 10 areas were in the North of England and Wales, while the majority of the healthiest places were in the south east.

Dr Marc Farr, a consultant for Experian, told BBC News Online: "You might think wealthy people would overindulge or eat richer foods.

"But they have better education about health issues. They will also have the money to buy lower-fat or organic foods."

He said cheaper healthy foods needed to be made more widely available to the less well-off.

"If they are going to buy a loaf of bread, they may well have to choose the cheapest - and that is likely to be a large white loaf, rather than a brown organic one."

He added: "These are white working class people living in areas of council flats where diet is poor and exercise isn't taken regularly.

"Findings apply across the age scale. You are talking about whole families who are overweight. There are low levels of education about diet.

"They are fairly old-fashioned communities, with more chip shops than Thai restaurants, for example."

'More gyms'

He said people in towns such as Kingston upon Thames were more educated and had more cosmopolitan tastes.

"They travel more, read different newspapers where health sections encourage them to try different diets and exercise.

"There are more gyms and they have money to join. Perhaps businesses are more willing to look after employees' health."

Dr Nick Summerton, a GP in Hull and head of the division of public health and primary care at the University of Hull, has been asked by local primary care trusts to suggest a way to tackle the problem of heart disease in the city.

He told BBC News Online: "Sometimes through no fault of their own some people are unable to loose weight, stop smoking or take more exercise.

"Within Hull we are trying to move away from the old fashioned and simplistic blame culture towards a postion where we assess patients overall risk of heart disease and then tailor the approach to them.

"This will mean more prescribing and less preaching!"

The chubbiest areas .................... and the slimmest
1 Kingston upon Hull 1 Kingston upon Thames
2 Knowsley, Merseyside 2 Kensington and Chelsea
3 Blackburn, Lancs 3 Westminster
4 South Tyneside 4 Richmond upon Thames
5 Easington, Co. Durham 5 Wandsworth
6 Merthyr Tydfil, Wales 6 Isles of Scilly
7 Blaenau Gwent, Wales 7 Hammersmith & Fulham
8 Stoke-on-Trent 8 Elmbridge, Surrey
9 Pendle, Lancs 9 Camden
10 Middlesbrough 10 South Bucks
11 Hyndburn, Lancs 11 Barnet
12 Hartlepool 12 City of Glasgow
13 Corby, Northants 13 St Albans, Herts
14 Sandwell, W Midlands 14 Chiltern, Bucks
15 Burnley, Lancs 15 Mole Valley, Surrey
16 Sunderland 16 City of Edinburgh
17 Oldham, Lancs 17 Epsom & Ewell, Surrey
18 Halton, Cheshire 18 Tandridge, Surrey
19 Rochdale, Lancs 19 Waverley, Surrey
20 Birmingham 20 Guildford
Source: Experian

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