01/08/2019

NI Pharmacies To Give Weight Loss Advice

A scheme to tackle weight issues in society is to be rolled out in more than 500 pharmacies across Northern Ireland.

With nearly two thirds of adults now classed as overweight or obese, the service aims to get more people eating healthily and engaging in physical activity to improve their health.

Introduced by the Public Health Agency as part of the Living Well initiative, the service will have two strands. Firstly, opportunistic interventions will be carried out to help reduce key risk factors that cause illness. Targeted issues include high blood pressure, tobacco use, harmful misuse of alcohol, unhealthy diets, sexual health and substance misuse.

Secondly, there will be targeted campaigns within pharmacies over the coming year. 'Choose to Live Better' is the second of five public health campaigns in 2019/2020 and will run throughout August and September.

The Northern Ireland Health Survey shows the proportion of overweight and obese adults was 64% in 2017/18, with 27% being obese and 37% overweight. Experts believe that chemists will prove to be an effective point of contact to enable healthier decision making among the public.

Caroline Bloomfield, the PHA's Lead on Obesity Prevention, said: "In recent years the prevalence of overweight and obesity has gradually risen and it is now the norm, rather than the exception, to be overweight in Northern Ireland.
News Image
"It is estimated that around one in ten of us visit community pharmacies every day. We want to increase patient and public knowledge and understanding of the importance of a healthy weight, heighten awareness of the health impacts of being overweight or obese, and highlight how making small changes every day, like eating healthier meals and moving more, can make a big difference.

"Delivering these messages through pharmacies is a great way of reaching people."

Joe Brogan from the Health and Social Care Board added: "It is recognised that community pharmacies are well placed to provide a focal point for the provision of health advice, information and services to help people live longer, healthier lives.

"Community pharmacies are often open when other healthcare providers are unavailable and they offer convenient access to a trained healthcare professional without an appointment. Studies show that people interact with community pharmacists at an average of 12 to 15 times a year, often using the same pharmacy each time."

Community pharmacist Eoghan O'Brien, Pharmacist at Bannside Pharmacy, Portglenone, said: "Overweight and obesity is something that impacts on the health of many people in Northern Ireland.

"This is something community pharmacists across Northern Ireland can advise people on through the Choose to Live Better campaign. We can encourage people to think about their own weight, raise awareness of the health impacts of being overweight or obese, and also help to make them aware that lifestyle changes, even small ones such as reducing portion sizes, can make a difference to their weight."



(JG/CM)

Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

09 August 2019
IT Product To Care For OAP's Living Alone
A local IT firm has developed a product that allows older people to live independently for longer by monitoring their home environment. Kinsetsu's 'HomeHug' reports on domestic surroundings through a mobile app so concerned family members are kept up to date with information about the environment in their loved one's home.
07 August 2019
Heavy Rain & Thunderstorms To Sweep NI
A band of heavy rain and thunderstorms will potentially bring disruption to Northern Ireland this Friday, 09 August. A yellow weather warning for rain will be in place all throughout the day, with a small chance of flooding to homes and businesses predicted.
01 February 2018
PHA Launches Breastfeeding Campaign
The Public Health Agency (PHA) has launched a new breastfeeding campaign. The campaign highlights the health benefits of breastfeeding and supporting mums to feel more comfortable breastfeeding in public. The SDLP has welcomed the launch of the Public Health Agency’s breastfeeding campaign.
21 June 2018
Systemic Failures In Education, Poverty & Mental Health In NI
The Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People has warned of 'systemic failures' in education, poverty and mental health.
02 March 2004
Community partnerships can lead to better health says lecturer
Community partnerships can lead to overall better health, providing the state and local people are committed to them, a University of Ulster lecturer has said.