Pharmacy is ideally placed to offer patients support on losing and managing their weight.
There are a variety of services and tools at a pharmacist’s fingertips but the key is matching the right one to the right patient, writes Catherine Cooper.
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“Some people want quick fixes but that’s not the best long-term and it’s not what we’re there for. People want to lose weight for lots of reasons and you need to get the full picture to help them succeed. Motivation is key – if they want to lose weight because of a long-term issue like a health problem they’re usually more likely to succeed than if they want to look good for a special event. But either way, the more information you have, the more likely you are to be able to provide a plan to suit them.”
Jyoti Sood, a locum pharmacist based in London
“It’s important to support the patient on an ongoing basis, making regular but small changes to lifestyle rather than a big change in one go. For us it’s part of day-to-day service rather than an official consultation but there’s a consulting room for weighing, measuring and privacy if the patient requires. If your weight changes your blood pressure or cholesterol can change and a pharmacist can help manage that. Everybody’s different and what suits one person may not suit another. Help from a pharmacy is about a healthy lifestyle rather than a fad diet.”
Alison Freemantle, clinical pharmacist at Lloyds Pharmacy
“We are not in the business of starving people – we want to set up realistic goals that can help people live a healthier lifestyle. But they have to be ready and motivated – this is why it’s so important to understand people’s reasons for wanting to manage their weight – not just their goals. And if they lose weight, many other health problems can often improve or be avoided, which saves the NHS money.”
Sid Dajani, superintendent pharmacist at Wainwright’s Chemist in Bishopstoke, Hampshire
“Every pharmacy now has a consultation room, and most have scales and a height measure, which is great for weight management advice. Pharmacists are uniquely placed to help people lose weight as not only can we help with diet and health advice, we offer a variety of plans and slimming options on which we can advise. We can also carry out health checks to ensure it’s all done safely and flag up any problems.”
Sibby Buckle, a community pharmacist working across several pharmacies in Nottingham
“I find that most people who come in looking for weight management advice tend to be people who want to lose a large amount of weight. Following a short consultation to check what is most appropriate, we can offer Lipotrim which is a meal replacement scheme with weekly weigh-ins or Xenical which absorbs some of the fat you take in. Both schemes tend to work very well as long as the people are motivated – they obviously work best when you stick to the instructions and that is down to the individual.”
Jacqui Little, pharmacy manager at Northway Pharmacy, Oxford, part of the Frosts Pharmacy Group
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