Pharmacists have a key role in helping obese and overweight people manage their weight due to prolonged patient contact time.

Pharmacists had more time to talk to patients about their weight compared to GPs when consulting patients and also provide drop in weigh in programmes said clinical lead for special weight management, Lucy Turnbull at a Westminster Forum event on tackling obesity. 

“Pharmacists have the right skills to speak to people about obesity as they are often in contact with them due to patients picking up prescriptions for co-morbidities associated with obesity,” Turnbull said.

Cardiovascular disease, stroke, colorectal and breast cancer and Type 2 diabetes are all health risks associated with obesity.

She also said pharmacists must not be afraid to advise patients to visit their GP if they think they have an issue with managing their weight.

“GPs find it difficult to approach the subject of weight with their patients and some doctors will recommend surgery straight away without considering any aspects of care or referral to other services”, she said.

“Pharmacists are an under-utilised resource, they have a very good platform from which to advise people on what is a healthy diet and this is something they should do more going forward,” said national director for diet and obesity at Public Health England, Dr Alison Tedstone.