PEOPLE in the North-East are more likely to suffer premature deaths in poor areas where local councils are failing to tackle the growing physical inactivity pandemic, according to a survey.

This first ever council by council analysis of increasing levels of physical inactivity across England, and the steps being taken to combat it, comes almost a year into councils inheriting legal responsibility for physical activity for the first time from the NHS.

The top three most inactive local authorities in the North-East are Sunderland, Hartlepool and Gateshead, all among the region’s most deprived areas.

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The top three with lowest levels of inactivity are Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland (one of the least deprived areas).

The not-for-profit health body ukactive found that in the most deprived areas in England, one in three people fail to raise their heartbeat for 30 minutes across a month, even in separate ten-minute bursts.

This number decreases to one in four in the least deprived areas.

The impact of this inactivity pandemic: where inactivity levels are the highest, premature mortality rates are also the highest.

In the 15 most inactive local authorities, there is an average of 342 premature deaths per 100,000 people per year, compared with 242 in the least inactive. Green spaces actually showed no significant correlation with levels of inactivity, suggesting that it is the utilisation of green space that is key, rather than the volume.

Areas with the highest levels of inactivity have a third fewer leisure facilities per person compared with areas of low inactivity. However, the report also shows that numbers aren’t always necessarily the answer – in some cases fewer, high quality, well designed leisure facilities have helped drive down inactivity levels.

Ukactive is calling for a national drive to reduce levels of physical inactivity.