High street pharmacies to offer free weight loss advice

London: People struggling to lose weight will now be offered help from their local high street pharmacy in England as part of the National Health Service efforts to escalate action to tackle rising obesity levels and type 2 diabetes. Community pharmacy teams will be equipped to refer adults living with obesity, and other conditions, to a 12-week online NHS weight management programme.

People from ethnic minority backgrounds, such as those of Indian heritage, can join the programme at a lower body mass index (BMI) of 27.5 as opposed to 30 considered the obesity mark, due to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

Obesity is a significant threat to the nation's health it increases your chance of dying from COVID and puts you at greater risk of stroke, cancer and other deadly disease, said Dr Bruce Warner, Deputy Chief Pharmaceutical Officer at NHS England.

The NHS's radical action plan means it is now easier for people to take control of their health adults with obesity can now walk into any high street community pharmacy to take the first step on a life-changing weight loss journey, he said.

People are being urged to come forward and community pharmacies are expected to make hundreds more referrals in the coming weeks. General Practitioners (GPs) in England have already referred over 50,000 adults living with obesity at risk of developing weight-related conditions.

People will be able to start the programme within 10 days of visiting their local pharmacy, with support for some people including one-to-one coaching from a weight loss expert. Adults living with obesity plus hypertension or diabetes will qualify for the service, which people can access via an app on their smartphone or online.

According to official statistics, three in five adults in England are overweight, with more than one in four living with obesity. Recent research found that people seeking NHS help to lose weight during the pandemic were on average five pounds heavier than those doing so during the previous three years.

NHS England said: One of the core knock-on effects of obesity in this country is an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is estimated to cost the NHS GBP 10 billion

a year, with almost one in 20 GP prescriptions for a diabetes treatment.

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