THE number of Hunter people hospitalised for reasons related to being overweight and obese is higher than the state average, NSW Health data shows.
In 2010/11, there were 9994 people living within Hunter New England who were hospitalised for "high body mass attributable" conditions. In 2017/18, there were 10,907.
The data shows both Hunter New England's overweight and obesity rates, and its rates of weight-related hospitalisations, are above the state average.
Dr Rebecca Hodder, of Hunter New England Health, said the higher rates were likely due to the diversity of the region's population.
"We know that overweight and obesity rates in Hunter New England are slightly higher than the NSW average," she said. "But compared to some of the other local health districts, we have a major metropolitan centre, and we also have many rural and regional and remote communities. There is also a number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people making up about 5 per cent of the population - so it is quite a diverse region compared to the rest of the state.
"What we are noticing across all of NSW, which is similarly represented in Hunter New England, is a slight increase in overweight and obesity rates over time."
Dr Hodder said in NSW - between 2009 and 2018 - overweight and obesity rates rose from 51 to 54 per cent.
"And there is a similar trend in Hunter New England as well," she said. "We have seen about a 7 per cent increase - from 55 per cent up to about 62 per cent.
"The trends are similar to the state, but we have a slightly higher prevalence.
"We know from research that the causes of overweight and obesity are really dominated by unhealthy eating - eating foods that are energy-dense and nutrient-poor, as well as physical inactivity and sedentary lifestyles. Those three components are the things we know contribute to overweight and obesity."
Dr Hodder said being overweight or obese was a "direct risk factor" for many potentially lethal chronic diseases such as cardiac disease, diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders and a range of cancers.
"Most hospitalisations would be related to those chronic conditions," she said.
Dr Hodder said the local health district had a number of services in place that were "preventative" and integrated across multiple services, such as the Better Health program, in addition to the NSW Get Healthy service.
"The Better Health program has been implemented across all of our community health settings, including mental health services, and that's aimed at assessing and monitoring the physical activity and diet levels of our population," she said.
"The people who are assessed as not meeting current guidelines for diet or physical activity are then referred to the NSW Get Healthy service. That's a statewide, free telephone coaching service that all people in NSW can access.
"A health coach will contact you to support healthy eating and physical activity, as well as alcohol intake and achieving and maintaining a healthy weight."