A NEW digital service is being introduced to help combat an obesity epidemic that costs a North-East clinical commissioning group more than £100million annually.

The County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust (CDDFT) has revealed its investment in a self-monitoring service for the region’s patients struggling with weight issues.

It is hoped that the Healthy Weight service will save the NHS hundreds of millions of pounds, with patients expected to set themselves exercise and dietary goals.

A Public Health England report in 2014 revealed the North-East to be the “fattest” region in the country, with around 68 per cent of residents being classed as overweight or obese.

The CDDFT announced the combative service will release healthcare professionals from making appointments with patients who will instead receive automated phone calls or emails requesting updated weight readings.

A CDDFT spokeswoman said: “Obesity causes a range of adverse conditions such as diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke and some types of cancer.

“Regular self-monitoring of weight with the confidence that a health professional will be able to provide expert support when it is needed will improve the chances of a patient achieving their diet and exercise goals and help them to lose weight.

“This will reduce the risk of secondary complications such as diabetes and coronary heart disease and improve the clinical outcomes of individuals if these conditions already exist.”

Inhealthcare, a Yorkshire-based company, has developed the Healthy Weight system alongside clinicians who will save £120 from each missed or cancelled appointment.

Bryn Sage, chief executive of Inhealthcare, said: “Our digital health service can help people take control over unhealthy eating habits and lead fitter, healthier and happier lives.

“Adopted at scale, this innovative service could save many hundreds of millions of pounds for the NHS.”

As part of the new NHS service, weight updates provided by patients will be overseen by professionals who will be alerted of any drastic changes and urged to follow up any fluctuations with their patient.

Patient information will also be released to individual clinicians via an Inhealthcare online platform, which is hosted within the NHS’ secure digital network.