More than 15,000 hospital admissions in Hertfordshire were as a result of obesity, figures show.

NHS England medical director Professor Stephen Powis said the latest "shocking" figures, which show obesity-related admissions have risen by nearly a fifth nationally, are a growing sign that an obesity crisis is sweeping the nation.

NHS Digital data reveals that in Hertfordshire, there were 17,380 hospital admissions where obesity was a primary or secondary factor in 2019-20.

That was 1,549 in every 100,000 residents – up from the previous year's figure of 1,543. Three years earlier, the rate was 1,342.

Women accounted for nearly two-thirds of obesity-related hospital cases in Hertfordshire in 2019-20, the figures reveal.

Nationally, there were just over one million admissions due to obesity in 2019-20 – up 17 per cent from 2018-19.

The east of England was the eighth-worst affected of the country's nine regions, with a rate of 1,526 per 100,000 population.

NHS Digital said some of the overall rise may be due to better reporting of data.

Professor Powis said the nation's "obesity crisis" is putting hundreds of thousands of people at greater risk of becoming severely ill with Covid, as well as heart attacks, stroke, cancer and other deadly diseases.

He added: "Carrying extra pounds not only puts a strain on your physical health, but also on the health service.

"As lockdown restrictions start to ease, there has never been a better time to take steps to live a healthier lifestyle."

The Government has announced a raft of new measures to help tackle obesity, including a ban on junk food adverts online and calories on menus for meals.

Diabetes UK, which has campaigned for menu calorie labelling as part of its Food Upfront campaign, welcomed the move.

Helen Kirrane, the charity's head of policy, campaigns and mobilisation, said: "Obesity is the single greatest risk factor for type 2 diabetes. There are an estimated 13.6 million people at increased risk of developing the condition in the UK.

"We are glad that the Government has committed to making large takeaway, cafe and restaurant chains in England label the food they sell. This will hopefully lead to improved menus and healthier options.

"We hope it will bring these large businesses more in line with the food retail sector when it comes to giving people clear calorie information for the food they buy."