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Call for an increased role for pharmacists in weight management

Pharmacists are increasingly recognising the potential to be involved in weight management, in a bid to stop the rising number of obese and overweight people.

Results from a recent survey show 98% of pharmacists in the UK believe that, with support and training, they are well placed to help people with their weight loss efforts. These data mirror the recent White Paper, Pharmacy in England, in which the government recognises the major contribution that pharmacies could make towards healthcare delivery and public health improvement. 

Of the UK pharmacists surveyed:

  • 94% think that guidance on healthy eating should be provided.
  • 94% think they should offer advice on weight loss medication.
  • 92% think they should give advice on behavioural change. 

Terry Maguire, a community pharmacist in Belfast and a fellow of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain who says: "As possibly the biggest public and personal health threat to the UK today, pharmacy is an underutilised resource that could be tackling obesity, providing ongoing advice and valuable behavioural change support, direct to the general public. The obesity 'epidemic' is, as yet, unabated and we urgently need to look at broadening our options to help people lose weight. What we are currently doing is not enough."'
Supporting the findings, European experts at the 16th European Conference of Obesity (ECO) in Geneva, Switzerland, met to discuss the future role of pharmacy and argued that "many hands make light work" when it comes to tackling such a huge public health issue in the UK where: 

  • Approximately 65% of men and 55% of women are either overweight or obese.
  • 40% of adults are actively trying to lose weight.
  • 63% of those that feel overweight have done so for over three years.

Evidence suggests that providing behavioural support to people increases the chance of successful weight loss.

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