ALMOST two-thirds of adults in Blackburn with Darwen are overweight or obese new figures have revealed as the government launches a strategy to tackle the problem.

And the figures for Burnley, Hyndburn and Rossendale are even worse.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson – who struggles with his own weight – has announced a range of measures to help people shed the pounds, including a ban on some junk food promotions and stricter advertising controls.

It comes after a Public Health England report found excess weight dramatically increases the risk of being admitted to hospital or dying from Covid-19.

People are being urged to lose five pounds to save the NHS money and help lower the risk of dying from coronavirus as part of the Government's new obesity crackdown.

Latest figures show 64 per cent of adults in Blackburn with Darwen were classed as overweight or obese in 2018-19.

The equivalent figures for other East Lancashire boroughs were Hyndburn 68.8 per cent, Burnley 71, Ribble Valley 59.5, Pendle 62.1, and Rossendale 66. The England average is 62.

Earlier this month borough health boss Cllr Damian Talbot admitted the council was missing its targets for a three-year strategy to tackle obesity.

Cllr Talbot said: "That the Prime Minister himself has made announcements on this issue highlights the fact that obesity is a national problem and stems from deep seated lifestyle patterns which cannot be changed quickly or without investment. We need more than stricter advertising to tackle this issue in the long term.

“Those suffering from weight problems need to be supported in looking at physical ways in which they can lose weight. It is also clear that obesity carries a stigma, which we must overcome if we are to help people. Exercise has long been accepted as the best form of improving health but in Blackburn with Darwen we have seen the government slash our leisure budget over the past 10 years.”

His Conservative group shadow Cllr Julie Slater, a qualified nutritionist, said: “The council has already missed its targets on this issue. They need to up their game especially with young children and schools to prevent this problem getting worse in the future.”

Hyndburn Council leader Cllr Miles Parkinson said: “The borough has improved for the number of overweight and obese residents from being the highest in the country. But this figure is still worrying and there is still a lot to do.”

Burnley Council’s leisure boss Cllr Ivor Emo said “This is a matter of concern. Burnley Council is doing everything it can to get people out and about and tackle the issue of obesity.”

Doctors, charities and campaign groups have welcomed the government’s plans, but some say they don’t go far enough.

A new poll suggests hundreds of thousands of people have piled on the pounds during lockdown.

Almost 450,000 people who have contributed to the Covid Symptom Study app have revealed that their weight has increased during lockdown.

According to latest findings from the Covid Symptom Study app, almost a third of those taking part (29%) said they had gained weight since March 2020.

Lead researcher Professor Tim Spector said that the UK had a problem with obesity before the pandemic but "lockdown has made it worse".

The average increase in body weight was found to be 0.78kg (1.6lbs).

Of 1.6 million people who responded to a questionnaire about behavioural changes since the start of lockdown, 35% said they had increased snacking and 34% had decreased their levels of physical acrtivity.

Meanwhile, almost one in five (19%) were eating less healthily than before the introduction of severe social restrictions and 27% were drinking more alcohol.

"Typically people snack 2-3 times a day and this accounts for 22% of total energy intake," said Sarah Berry, associate professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at King's College London and principal scientist advising ZOE - the healthcare science company behind the Covid Symptom Study app.

"The increase in snacking during lockdown, especially with unhealthy, highly processed foods is likely to be a contributing factor in our observed weight gain of the UK population.

"Replacing unhealthy snacks with healthy snacks, and limiting late-night snacking, is a simple dietary strategy to improve health. But we shouldn't use these findings to shame people about their weight, especially during these difficult times, instead we should focus our efforts to help everyone lead healthy lifestyles that are sustainable."

The Government's delayed £25 million bike repair scheme launched on Tuesday.

Halfords said customers in England will be able to use £50 vouchers towards the cost of fixing bikes.

Up to half a million of the vouchers to help the public "drag bikes out of retirement" were due to be issued from June as part of Government efforts to promote more two-wheeled journeys as lockdown eases.

An initial flurry of enquiries crashed the website when it went live at 11.45pm last night.