While many up north are piling on the pounds, a new survey shows the svelte people of Elmbridge are among the slimmest in the country.

A recently published report on body-mass index (BMI) by Dr Foster Intelligence and the Information Centre for Health and Social Care, reveals Elmbridge residents have obesity rates nearly half those in the north of England.

The table shows people living in the borough have a 22 per cent less-than-average risk of obesity. This is only ten places behind Kensington & Chelsea - the slimmest borough in the country - which has a 37 per cent less-than-average risk.

People living in the former mining and steel towns of Easington and Corby are the fattest in the UK, with a more than 20 per cent higher than average risk of obesity.

Fayzeh Ansari, of Rocco ladieswear in Esher, said: "It doesn't surprise me. We cater for the mid to upper end of the market and mostly sell sizes 8 to 12."

Liz Witham, from the Sandown Sports Club in Esher, says people benefit from access to local amenities promoting a healthy lifestyle - such as Hampton Court, Bushey Park and Richmond Park.

She said: "The fact the area is fairly affluent is a factor as people can afford to keep up a gym membership, but we have many members who are working class people and students."

The Government aims to tackle obesity in children under 11 by 2010 - part of its wider obesity strategy.