Southampton has one of the highest rates of obesity-related hospital admissions in the country, new figures show.

Charity Diabetes UK said the Government needs to do more to prevent the problem nationally by pursuing its commitment to slashing childhood obesity rates, while the NHS said the issue is putting "unnecessary strain" on health services.

NHS Digital data reveals that in Southampton there were 5,325 hospital admissions where obesity was the primary or secondary cause in 2018-19.

That was 2,506 in every 100,000 residents – one of the highest rates in England, and up from the previous year's figure of 2,457. Three years earlier, the rate was 2,703.

Data also shows that women accounted for 3,510 (66%) of Southampton's obesity-related hospital admissions in 2018-19.

There was huge disparity in rates across England, with the most deprived areas worse affected than those with low deprivation levels.

The South East had the lowest rate of the country's nine regions, with a rate of 1,176 per 100,000 population.

That was nearly half the East Midlands's rate, which was 2,343.

Nationally, there were 876,000 admissions due to obesity in 2018-19, a 23% increase on 2017-18.

Helen Kirrane, head of policy, campaigns and mobilisation at Diabetes UK, said the rise means more people are getting access to the treatment they need.

She said: "We know that primary admissions for obesity are up, but these are predominantly related to people having bariatric surgery.

“Secondary admissions for obesity have also risen significantly, but the caveat here is that a lot of that is probably due to better recording of obesity as a factor in an admission.

“We are currently living in uncertain times, but we shouldn’t forget that people are still living with and developing obesity and its related conditions such as type 2 diabetes.

She added that it is "vital" the Government follows through on its childhood obesity plan commitments, while the NHS and councils should support people to manage their weight.

A review into how obesity, alongside other factors including ethnicity and gender, affect a person's vulnerability to the coronavirus has been announced by Public Health England.

PHE said the review will provide insight into emerging evidence the virus is having a disproportionate effect on different groups.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the "extremely important and hugely complex task" is part of a continued effort to reduce health inequalities across the country.

An NHS spokesperson said: “With a 20% increase in hospital admissions over the last five years directly linked to obesity, it is clear that obesity is causing diseases including cancer, heart attacks, stroke and type 2 diabetes, while putting unnecessary strain on NHS services.

“The NHS is playing its part through our long-term plan, but other industries must also step up and prevent the harm obesity is causing, particularly to young people.”