North East is England's unhealthiest region according to the Office for National Statistics

Credit: PA

The North East is the least healthy region in England, according to new data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). 

Middlesbrough was the third unhealthiest local authority area out of 307, with Newcastle not far behind in twelfth. 

In further bad news for our area, Yorkshire and the Humber was the second least healthy region. 

The ONS’s Health Index study looks at several indicators of health, comparing each area and region to the national average. This year’s study looked at data between 2015 and 2019. 

And experts warn the situation is likely to have got worse in the North East since the pandemic.

Despite the study saying that health in England “remained relatively stable” across the four years studied, “health worsened in the North East”. 

However, Newcastle scored well in “access to services” and “access to green spaces”, with above average amounts of both private and public outside space, but the city performed poorly on “personal well-being”, as well as crime.  

Despite performing poorly overall, Middlesbrough also had plenty of access to green spaces and good “physical health conditions”, meaning relatively low levels of diseases such as cancer and diabetes. 

With levels of deprivation often linked to poor health, it is feared the situation is likely to get worse as people feel the tightening squeeze of the cost-of-living crisis. The energy price cap is being scrapped from today, meaning people will have to spend more on bills. 

Claire Laydon from Newcastle-based charity Healthworks said: “I’m not surprised. There is a lot of deprivation… There is a lot of support out there but a lot more can be done”. 

She added: “Services have been cut and I think benefits have been cut. A lot of money is being taken away from the community”. 

Lorna Smith, Interim Director of Public Health for Newcastle City Council, said: “Sadly, we know that inequalities are closely linked with higher levels of deprivation, and we can see this in the fact that many other North East areas compare similarly to Newcastle”. 

She continued: “Our health is intrinsically linked to our social circumstances, and it is by improving people’s quality of life that we can improve their health…

"For instance, our approach to local obesity levels is increasingly focused on our environment and the need for a whole-system approach to ensure we make every day healthy behaviours accessible and achievable for everyone”.