People must change their everyday lifestyles to improve their well-being, a Government minister said today as a new study revealed a continuing North-South divide in the nation's health.

Public Health Minister Caroline Flint said she wanted to see an NHS geared as much towards preventive work as treatment, with joint working between town planners, businesses and individuals to improve health.

"What we know is that whether on obesity or how long you live, some parts of the country are doing better than others," she said in a GMTV interview.

"We cannot solve all of it from central Whitehall but we can give them the tools to get on with it locally."

Ms Flint was speaking as the Health Profile of England was unveiled, showing a significant North-South health divide still exists.

Northern areas have higher obesity rates, more smoking-related deaths and lower life expectancies, with men in northern counties dying on average two years earlier than their southern equivalents.

Boston in Lincolnshire has been shown to have the highest obesity rate of any town in the country.

The new document is designed to provide the most comprehensive picture yet of the state of the public's health across the country.

It is hoped the information will help areas measure their progress in tackling health inequalities and seek help from those performing better.