TWO-thirds of people in East Lancashire are overweight or obese, according to a new league table of the fattest towns and cities.

But the biggest surprise in the data, which has been published for the first time by Public Health England, was that Burnley ranked below the national average and was the ‘thinnest’ of our six boroughs, having ranked highly in previous studies.

Rossendale was the ‘fattest’ borough in East Lancashire, where 69.1per cent of adults had a body mass index of 25 or over, compared to the national average of 63.8per cent.

Blackburn with Darwen, 67.9 per cent, Pendle, 67.7per cent, and Hyndburn, 67.5per cent, were also well above the national average, with the Ribble Valley slightly above average at 64.4per cent.

Azhar Ali, chairman of Lancashire County Council’s health and wellbeing board, said: “This is good news for Burnley, but we need to look at East Lancashire together and focus on getting more good quality, higher paid jobs in the area, so people can afford to change their lifestyles.

“There’s a lot of poverty here and things like ‘five a day’ sound easy on paper, but often people find it a struggle to afford things like fish or fresh fruit and vegetables.

“We are looking at focusing resources on childhood activities and helping parents make the right choices, but at the end of the day it is down to individual choice.”

The fattest local authority area was Copeland in west Cumbria, where 75.9per cent of people are overweight or obese, followed by Doncaster, 74.4per cent, and East Lindsey in Lincolnshire, 73.8per cent.

The thinnest boroughs include several in London, such as Kensington and Chelsea, 45.9%, and Richmond upon Thames, 47.6%.

Tam Fry, from the National Obesity Forum, said: “The overall figure of 64per cent is bad enough but when figures rise to around 80per cent for some areas, one has to believe the problem may be insurmountable.”