More people in Hartlepool are dying from alcoholic liver disease than anywhere else in the North East.
Public Health England figures reveal that the town lags behind the national average for people, particularly men, being admitted to hospital and dying from the disease.
Hartlepool has one of the worst rates for men aged under 75 dying from alcohol-related liver disease.
Between 2013 and 2015, 34 men lost their lives, a rate of 28.1 people per 100,000 of the town’s population.
It was the highest rate for the whole of the North East and more than double the England average of 11.7.
The death rate for men and women from liver disease between the same period was 33.1 people per 100,000 compared to just 18 nationally.
Hartlepool also has one of the highest rates in England for adults being overweight or obese which the British Liver Trust says is one of the key contributing factors to the condition.
Paul Edmondson-Jones, Hartlepool’s interim director of public health, said: “The council is well aware of the prevalence of liver disease in the town and is working extremely hard with Public Health England and other partner organisations to reverse the current trend.
“Indeed, there are a number of initiatives to help people make better choices leading to a healthier lifestyle and a longer life expectancy.
“Tackling excess weight remains a very high priority and we have a 10-year plan in place including aspects such as restricting the number of takeaways, reducing high fat, sugar and salt food intake and campaigns to encourage physical activity.
“We are also involved in ongoing campaigns and preventative measures to encourage people to drink responsibly as there is a clear correlation between alcohol and liver disease.
“Another important part of our work involves joint working with neighbouring councils undertaking screening and early detection for sexually transmitted viral infections that adversely affect the liver.”
The British Liver Trust’s Love Your Liver campaign aims to reach the one in five people in the UK who may have the early stages of liver disease, but are unaware of it.
Three steps to help prevent liver disease are cut down on alcohol intake; reduce sugar, carbohydrates and fat, and know the risk factors for viral hepatitis and get tested or vaccinated.