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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Case study

Sid Dajani has helped more than 400 people lose weight including a 56-year-old lorry driver who had come in to the pharmacy seeking help for a whitlow.

He was red-faced and breathless by the time he had completed the short walk to the counter and Sid persuaded Dajani to join his weight management programme.

At the initial consultation he weighed 118 kilos, had a BMI of 41.4 and a 48-inch waist. His job meant that he was very sedentary and ate a lot of fried and calorific food. He’d had to move out of the marital bedroom due to his snoring, had no energy and found it hard to play with his grandchildren. He was taking metaformin for diabetes.

Dajani prescribed orlistat using a patient group direction along with advice about how to take it and what to avoid eating. At the second consultation they discussed food portion size, at the third, the types of food to eat and at the fourth, exercise. “I suggested that at his rest stops while driving he go for a brisk walk, and also showed him some simple exercises he could do while sitting, such as heel taps and toe taps.”

The patient got on well with the orlistat, Dajani says; “Apart from one time a few weeks in when he decided to treat himself to a kebab – after it came out as oil he said he won’t be doing that again!”

He was weighed after one month, three months and six months. At his six month weigh in he’d lost 20 kilos, 10 inches from his waist, and his BMI was down to 35.1.

He’s now been able to move back into the marital bedroom, can play with his grandchildren, has stopped needing to take metaformin and is continuing with his healthier lifestyle.


[box type="shadow" ]Top tips

One size doesn’t fit all.

Talk to your patients to find out what approach would be best for them.

Set realistic targets.

Try to introduce lifestyle changes gradually where possible rather than several things at once.

Regular, face-to-face meetings can help keep your customers motivated.

Depending on your pharmacy and staffing you may find it easier to ask customers to make appointments than arrive for advice on a drop-in basis.

Review how things are going for individual patients regularly.

If one plan doesn’t suit them, suggest another.

While the initial consultation and interpretation of results will usually need to be carried out by the pharmacist, certain tasks such as weighing and measuring can often be delegated to other staff members.

Consider discussing weight management during MURs when appropriate – patients may also need to have their dosage of medicines reviewed after significant weight loss.[/box]