NPN | Your Pharmacy Can Help: Weight Loss

Obesity has been on the rise for a long time now, and we have reached a point where most people in England are now overweight or obese. Being overweight has well-known medical consequences, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer - diseases that are predicted to leave the NHS with a bill for £10bn by 2050. To help tackle this problem, the government has enlisted pharmacies to offer a range of weight management services, making the local pharmacy the new go-to place for quality advice and products. In July 2019, the pharmacy contract gave more emphasis to public health and prevention, requiring all pharmacies to become an HLP (Healthy Living Pharmacy) by early summer last year.

As we move into the first month of 2022, a lot of people are engaging with a new health drive, and pharmacies are opening their doors to individuals keen to talk about weight loss and fitness, as part of a wider conversation about health and wellbeing. New Year’s resolutions can be difficult to maintain due to a lack of motivation - for many people, a resolution won’t extend beyond January - but pharmacists have been trained to offer motivational advice that can help people sustain good habits for the longer term, such as setting SMART goals, sharing plans with friends and family, and joining support groups designed to motivate and encourage.

The PSNC has championed the use of high-quality apps for health, and pharmacy staff can offer guidance when it comes to digital applications that can give support to customers between pharmacy visits, especially when it comes to diet and fitness. Many smartphones already have features that can help people track different aspects of their wellbeing journey, such as sleep patterns and keeping track of steps taken throughout the day. The NHS One You initiative has promoted a series of apps for weight loss and fitness, which a pharmacist can make customers aware of.

Pharmacists are trained to identify issues that may be related to weight, such as a customer asking for advice on symptoms that might be worsened by being overweight, or questions about blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetic testing. Your local pharmacy might recommend the available products or services in relation to fitness, including support bandages to assist people who are starting to exercise and need to protect themselves from injuries, or Health living services such as diabetes testing services, smoking cessation services and the NHS Health Check service.

Your local pharmacy may be taking part in healthy living initiatives such as Active 10, which focuses on getting people to do 10 minutes of brisk walking to demonstrate that exercise is more easily available than many people might realise. The Eat Better campaign directs customers to recipes and tips on managing weight through healthy eating. Pharmacists will be able to direct customers to websites and services that can support them through their weight loss journey.

Speak to your local community pharmacy to discover guidance on navigating your health and wellbeing journey, and find out how we can support you and ensure your New Year’s resolution can evolve into healthy lifestyle choices that last.