The North East of England is the ‘least healthy’ place in the UK, new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggest.
The region came last place in a table of English regions, showing an average life expectancy of 77.8 years.
Comparing it to the rest of the table, the South East came in first at 80.2 years and the capital, London, was fourth with an average life expectancy of 79.6 years.
Men also seem to have it worse than women, with men in Sunderland having an average life expectancy of 77.8 years. Comparing that to Wearside women, who (on average) live nearly four years longer than men at 81.6 years.
The statistics do not improve when looking at the whole country in terms of towns and cities either.
Out of the 152 towns and cities included, Sunderland was 128th in terms of the proportion of women living healthily.
Newcastle women are not that much better off, being 122nd proportionally, and Gateshead women coming 115th.
Sunderland men were even further down the table in regards to being healthy, coming at 144th out 152, while Newcastle men fared a bit better at 127th place – and Gateshead men came between the two, placing 133rd.
Why are so many places in the North East so far down the list? It could be several factors, including diet, attitude to exercise and general inactivity in the population.
According to Sport England, 28 per cent of adults in England are inactive, in that they participate less than 30 minutes of physical activity each week. Of that 28 per cent, 42 per cent were male and 58 per cent were female, pointing to a gender gap in who is less active.
Sunderland City Council are trying to get their residents more active.
A spokesperson for the council said: “There is nothing more important [to the council] than the health and well-being of all its residents.
“It is one of the City Council’s key aims that Sunderland should be a healthy and prosperous city. This is so that Sunderland is a desirable safe and healthy place to live, work, learn and visit, where people can reach their full potential.”
Tyne & Wear Sport are also pushing for more people to get active in the area. In partnership with Sport England, they are running a campaign called Sportivate, creating more opportunities for people aged 11-25 to get involved with sport.
Another scheme that they are running is the Active Workplace scheme. With an estimation of a third of people’s waking life being spent at work, the aim is to get people moving in the workplace instead of spending the whole day sitting down. The scheme works so that businesses can book out a six week course in order to improve fitness and wellbeing of their workforce.
The Youth Sports Trust set up Bikeability, a programme designed to get young people cycling by giving them proper training in schools. Backed by the Department of Transport, the Government gives out grants to councils to them to run the course to teach children from years 5-9 in how to ride a bike safely.
In 2015, Sunderland City Council received £124,000 for Bikeability courses and Newcastle City Council received £88,000.