High-level talks on obesity produce recommendations on pharmacy’s role

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High-level talks on obesity produce recommendations on pharmacy’s role

Talks between pharmacy bodies, government, public health experts and people who live with obesity have produced seven recommendations for developing the role community pharmacies can play in helping individuals with the condition.

The discussion, held virtually at the end of March between the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, Royal Society for Public Health, Patients Association, UK Health Security Agency, Diabetes UK and NHS England, concluded that everyone with type 1 and type 2 diabetes should be able to access weight management services in pharmacies.

Speakers at the event, which was arranged by the National Pharmacy Association and chaired by Faculty of Public Health president Maggie Rae, said services “should have a greater focus on children and young adults” so that information about good diet and weight can be given to youngsters early and prevent obesity.

It was also suggested that health professionals should frame obesity as an illness that people live with in order to avoid the sense of blame and stigma that can surround the condition.

The roundtable heard that community pharmacy should be promoted “as the setting for person-centred services,” with health champions, social prescribing and local health services used to "enhance" pharmacy's offering. 

Delegates recommended that pharmacy teams’ knowledge and skills aorund obesity should be improved, with a particular focus on the pharmacy undergraduate curriculum.

They also called for an exploration of “genetic and digital revolutions to improve services to those living with obesity.” The event was held in collaboration with the pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk.

The NPA’s policy manager Helga Mangion insisted community pharmacies have “an important role to play in the prevention and management of the condition” as obesity levels rise in the UK.

Between April 2019 and December 2020, 10,780 hospital admissions were “directly attributable to obesity,” according to a report by NHS Digital which also revealed 294,000 items were prescribed for the treatment of the condition.

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