More pharmacies should offer NHS health checks to help tackle obesity and reduce GP workload, a report has said.  

The report, published today (15 March) endorsed by Obesity UK and All About Obesity, looked into how the NHS can improve obesity care.  

Among its several recommendations, the report suggested that ‘consideration should be given to expanding NHS health checks in community pharmacy’ so to ‘widen access and alleviate pressure on GP services’. 

NHS health checks, which are provided by both GPs and local pharmacies, involve a health risk assessment including measurement of Body Mass Index (BMI). 

According to the most recent data on obesity, physical exercise and diet from NHS Digital, 26% of men and 29% of women in England were considered obese in 2020. 


Those most likely to benefit from a health check include people who live in more deprived areas, and are more likely to be living with obesity, the report suggested. 

It also called for healthcare professional education and training on the science of obesity to be introduced so to reduce experiences of stigma for people living with obesity and improve access. 

It said: ‘Destigmatising interactions with healthcare professionals could encourage people living with obesity to engage with health services, recognising that patients view stigma as a barrier to accessing services.’  

Sanjeev Panesar, a National Pharmacy Association (NPA) board member who advised the report’s authors, said: ‘The benefits of losing weight can be profound for mental and physical wellbeing.  

‘As pharmacists, we are frequently asked for advice about medicines to support weight loss, and we can also help people on their journey to a healthier lifestyle, which is vital for maintaining a healthy weight. 

‘This report is a reminder of the scale of the obesity challenge, which has become even more pressing due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic’. 

In January, community pharmacy teams were asked to begin referring adults living with obesity, and other conditions, to a twelve-week online NHS weight management programme.