Celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is heading to the North East this weekend to launch a weighty challenge.
The TV personality has chosen Newcastle for a ground-breaking social experiment where he will challenge its people to lose a staggering 100,000lbs in a year.
He is asking the people who live, work and play in the city to commit to losing weight over the course of a year.
Working with the city council, the River Cottage presenter will encourage everyone to make changes to their diet, and get involved in new and exhilarating physical activities in a bid to shed the pounds.
He will be at Grey’s Monument in the city centre all day tomorrow to unveil his mission, which is called ‘Newcastle Can’ and will be getting people signed up to his new website.
The 52-year-old, who is a keen campaigner on food and environmental issues, will answer questions and encourage people to join his challenge.
He said: “The fact is that as a nation we need to do something about our increasing weight - it’s doing too many of us too much harm.
"I think that galvanising a whole city to take responsibility for their collective health, by coming together to lose weight, could be an amazing way to make progress in the fight against obesity.
"It’s not going to be easy, but I am confident that the people of Newcastle are up to my challenge. "
I have chosen Newcastle to take part in this experiment for two reasons – firstly because the number of people considered obese or overweight in the city is in line with the national average; and secondly - and most importantly - because looking around the city I see a fantastic community spirit that could inspire the rest of the UK.
"There are already some good initiatives in the city to help people improve their health, and I think that, together, we can take it to another level. Good luck Newcastle – you can do it!"
A dedicated website will contain a host of information about healthy eating and exercise to get people motivated and help them keep on track.
Hugh and the team will be checking in with the people who sign up at regular intervals throughout the year, keeping tabs on their progress, and providing advice and support.
The ‘Newcastle Can’ challenge is being filmed for the BBC and The Open University by Keo Films. You can find out more at www.newcastlecan.com