County Hall bosses are encouraging residents to attend free NHS health check sessions to ensure they are fit and healthy.

New figures from Diabetes UK show that only half of 40 to 74- year-olds have taken advantage of the free service, which assesses the risk of conditions including type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Dr Mike Gogarty, director for public health and wellbeing at Essex County Council, said: “We want as many residents as possible to benefit from this.

“Risk factors such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol are pretty common, but people may not know they have them. More importantly they are easily treated and can reduce people’s chances of having a heart attack or stroke. The NHS Health Check can help identify these risks.

“Here in Essex we offered over 86,000 health checks to residents in the last year. However, many people who have been invited are still not attending and I would strongly encourage people to take advantage of these checks.

“We also believe older people should benefit from these checks and uniquely in Essex we are also offering these checks through GPs to people aged 75 to 84.”