THE North-East's director of public health has urged people to wake up after another report confirmed the bad state of the region's health.

The new report - Lifestyle And Its Impact On Health - paints a bleak picture.

The North-East is worst for heart disease, cancer and serious respiratory problems.

It also has the highest hospital admission rate in England.

Faced with the grim statistics, regional director of public health Dr Bill Kirkup expressed his frustration that many people in the region did not realise just how serious the situation was.

"Most of us in the health community are acutely aware of the major problems we face," said Dr Kirkup.

"But we have come to realise over the past couple of years that many others - some businesses and local councils, for example - do not appreciate the extent of our difficulties.

"What we must now do is make it abundantly plain to our partners in other government departments, local authorities, and anyone else who can have an impact on the health of the population, just how serious the situation is," he added.

The report is published by the Association of Public Health Observatories. It says encouraging progress is being made on smoking and heart disease - but that the gap between average health and that of the worst off is widening.

Forty per cent of young men in the North-East are overweight or obese, the highest regional figure along with Yorkshire and the Humber.

The region also has the highest percentage of men and women binge drinkers, along with Yorkshire and the Humber.

Other concerns are high levels of smoking in women and low levels of fruit and vegetable consumption.