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HomeUK NewsObesity: Pharmacies to offer NHS weight-loss scheme without referral from GP

Obesity: Pharmacies to offer NHS weight-loss scheme without referral from GP

NHS weight-loss classes are now available through pharmacies for obese people.

Previously, a GP consultation was needed to gain access to the free, online scheme to help with losing weight.

But now the 12-week plan – including tailored diets and exercise – can be accessed at pharmacies for people with a BMI over 30.

More than 50,000 referrals have been made GPs already.

People need to have a body mass index (BMI) over 30 to sign up and are contacted within 10 days to start the programme.

Those from Asian, black and minority ethnic backgrounds can join the programme at a lower BMI of 27.5, due to their increased risk of Type 2 diabetes.

A BMI of 30 would mean someone 5ft 10in (178cm) would weigh 15st or 95kg.

The scale has come under criticism for not including factors like body fat percentage in the past.

As well as diet and exercise plans, the NHS obesity scheme also includes access to apps, and some people can get one-on-one training and support.

Around 60% of adults in England are overweight, and more than a quarter are obese.

Dr Bruce Warner, deputy chief pharmaceutical officer at NHS England, said: “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.

“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.”

Diabetes is estimated to cost around £10bn for the NHS to treat every year, and around 5% of GP prescriptions are for a diabetes treatment.

Robert Pettifer, a pharmacist in Warwickshire, said: “Pharmacies play a vital role in the health and wellbeing of our communities, and it’s great that we can now refer people to this new weight loss programme.”

All 11,000 English pharmacies have a trained “healthy living champion” who is able to offer people information.

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