NEARLY two-thirds of adults in Essex are overweight or obese, figures have revealed.

Public Health England figures show 63 per cent of adults in the county were classed in the two categories in 2018-19, the latest period for which data is available.

This was the same as the average across the East of England – but it was just above the England average of 62 per cent.

Separate figures show that 22 per cent of children aged four to five-years -old in Essex were overweight or obese in the 2018-19 academic year.

It comes as the Government launched a strategy to slim down the nation’s waistlines.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson – who says he struggles with his own weight – has announced a range of measures to help people shed the pounds, including a ban on some junk food promotions and stricter advertising controls.

A Public Health England report found being overweight or obese can dramatically increase the risk of being admitted to hospital or dying from Covid-19.

Doctors, charities and campaign groups have welcomed the plans, but some say they don’t go far enough.

Professor Dame Parveen Kumar, board of science chairwoman at the British Medical Association, said obesity can have a “devastating” impact on people’s health, including the increased risk from the coronavirus.

She added: “As the Government’s new strategy recognises, this has been a real wake-up call for the nation and it’s imperative that we use this opportunity to make changes for good, not only for society today, but also for generations to come.”

The Prime Minister’s obesity strategy includes barring shops from pushing “buy one, get one free” promotions on unhealthy snacks, ending junk food adverts on TV before 9pm and forcing restaurants and takeaways with more than 250 employees to add calorie labels to menus.

It will also seen the NHS weight management services and its Diabetes Prevention Programme expanded to help more people.

Mr Johnson said: “Losing weight is hard but with some small changes we can all feel fitter and healthier.

“If we all do our bit, we can reduce our health risks and protect ourselves against coronavirus – as well as taking pressure off the NHS.”