The home of the pork pie is hiding a dark secret. Despite its rural charm and world-famous food, Melton has been revealed to be the unluckiest place to live in England.
The borough in Leicestershire, where Melton Mowbray pies have been produced since the 19th century, has the highest concentration of accidental death, according to figures out today.
Injury profiles published by the South West Public Health Observatory (SWPHO) for the Public Health Observatories in England, reveal that almost 11,000 people die each year from accidental injuries, nearly 3,300 of them in falls.
Melton, which is also home to Stilton cheese, had the highest rate of accidental deaths in 2010/11, 29 per 100,000 people. The authority with the lowest rate was Runnymede, Surrey, with 5.5 deaths per 100,000.
Melton also had the most number of years of life lost annually, at 95.6 per 10,000 people compared with 10 per 10,000 in Surrey Heath.
Residents were baffled by the high death rates. "Nothing much really goes on here apart from pork pies and Stilton cheese," said Malise Graham, a Conservative councillor in Melton. "It is very much a sparsely populated area which does have some agriculture, which I suppose does tend to have a high number of workplace accidents."
Data on emergency hospital admissions for accidental injury also differed by region. Overall, there were more than 650,500 admissions due to accidental injury, including nearly 50,000 because of land transport accidents and more than 281,000 from falls among over-65s. Admission rates for transport accidents varied from 48.8 per 100,000 in Kingston upon Thames to 189.8 per 100,000 in Boston, Lincolnshire.
"Injuries don't often make the headlines and are consequently something of a hidden public health issue," said SWPHO director, Dr Julia Verne. "This needs to change. We know that they disproportionately affect the young, the old and the least well off."
The disparity between regions could be explained by social and economic causes or differences in the availability of NHS and care services, she said.
Accidental injury to children accounted for 137,264 admissions. Liverpool recorded the highest rate, with 235.1 per 100,000. The lowest was 69.7, in Three Rivers, Hertfordshire.
Poisoning admissions numbered 123,200,, with 539 per 100,000 in Middlesbrough and 67.8 in Wokingham, Berkshire. Alcohol accounted for more than 167,000 admissions due to injury, with 617.9 per 100,000 in Lincoln and 95.9 in Wokingham.