Bradford has been branded as being one of the worst places in the country for couch potatoes – and that could be triggering premature deaths.

A new report lists the district as fourth worst in terms of inactivity with nearly 38 per cent of people not taking enough exercise.

There is a ‘pandemic’ of inactivity in poor parts of England, according to the study by health group Ukactive which is backed by former world and Olympic champion athlete Lord Sebastian Coe.

These places have an average 342 early deaths per 100,000 people compared to 242 premature deaths in areas where people exercise more.

The district is listed as having an inactivity rate of 37.68 per cent – with only Salford, Sandwell and Manchester faring worst.

And last night a senior Bradford councillor admitted: “Bradford has issues with life expectancy levels.”

Councillor Andrew Thornton, Bradford Council's executive member for environment and sport, said: “There is evidence of differing mortality rates with very strong links to poverty and deprivation, along with issues around life expectancy.

“Public health and inactivity is something we are constantly aware of. We want to ensure people keep active and to address disparities with other parts of the UK.”

Last year, councils took over responsibility for promoting exercise from the NHS and have since spent two per cent of public health budgets on boosting activity. The report says five per cent of local authorities have not allocated any cash to such programmes for 2013/14.

Coun Thornton said in the past year Bradford had spent more than three per cent of its health budget on promoting exercise, with some two million visits to Council-run sports centres and swimming pools.

“We are aware that adult inactivity is a big issue across Bradford,” he said.

“Also, we know there is a strong link between poverty and inactivity and Bradford has some of the most deprived parts of the country.

“Through public health and leisure centres and working with community groups we consistently put out a message encouraging people to be more active. And I think the message is getting through.

“Our Club Active is the biggest health and fitness provider in the district with more than 5,000 gym members. We have healthy weight programmes with sessions for those who have conditions which make activity more difficult.

“In addition, we encourage people to join in with everything from organised walks to maintaining an allotment and support mass participation events such as Skyride which promotes leisure cycling and has gone from strength-to-strength.

“There are positives in Bradford and plenty of options out there for people.”

Researchers found that the most inactive local authorities have, on average, a third fewer leisure facilities than more active areas.

Ciaran Devane, chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “This report exposes the stark reality of physical inactivity in England and the detrimental effect it is having on our health.

Lord Coe, chairman of the British Olympic Association, said: “Physical inactivity accounts for nearly one fifth of premature deaths in the UK. With predictions that inactivity levels will soar by 15 per cent by 2030, there is no doubt this needs urgent attention.”

  • The five councils with the most inactive people:

Manchester 40.24%
Sandwell 39.13%
Salford 39.07%
Bradford 37.68%
Dudley 37.67%