Weight loss programme tackles obesity

Birmingham weight loss programme tackles obesity in the city

2 March 2012

At a time when almost a quarter of the population of England are now classified as obese, results from a report produced by researchers from the School of Pharmacy at Aston University have shown that a weight loss programme undertaken by GP practices and community pharmacies in central Birmingham is effective at reducing weight over a 12 week period.

The My Choice Weight Management Programme was designed and commissioned by the NHS Birmingham Public Health to support individuals ‘ready to change’, through contact with healthcare workers and the development of a plan to help individuals to lose weight and maintain weight loss. The report by Aston University academics Dr Joe Bush and Dr Chris Langley shows that these reductions in weight were maintained in a significant proportion of the cohort when assessed at final follow up several months later.

A total of 451 overweight or obese men and women took part. Results showed that initially, GP patients lost more weight in the first three months, however this then shifted to show that pharmacy users lost more weight.* In addition, My Choice proved to be very popular with participants with 83% of respondents to a post-programme questionnaire indicating that they would be happy to recommend the programme to other people looking to lose weight.

As a result of this report, the programme is being continued in community pharmacies in areas of highest need across Birmingham, traditionally those areas of high socioeconomic deprivation.

Linda Hindle, Consultant Dietitian from Birmingham Public Health said “The positive outcomes achieved by My Choice Weight Management Programme are particularly notable because the programme is reaching a group with most to gain from sustained weight loss. The health risks from obesity in the South Asian population is apparent at a lower BMI than the Caucasian population because of the tendency for excess fat to be deposited centrally (apple shape). As a result this programme will be essential to reduce health inequalities related to obesity.”

Dr Joe Bush from Aston University said: “The My Choice Weight Management Programme is an example of how innovation in service provision can help to tackle rising levels of overweight and obesity within traditionally ‘hard-to-reach’ populations. Our report demonstrates that GP surgeries and community pharmacies can be effective venues for the delivery of weight management services and we are delighted that we can contribute to the development of the wider evidence-base around community-based weight management interventions.”

Mr Dipak Shah from Shah Pharmacy said: “The My Choice programme has been a great success for our pharmacy team as it motivated my staff to deliver a successful weight management programme. Clients were happy with our help and support and they managed to lose weight.”

Media enquiries: Anna Donaldson, 07595 088316 or anna.donaldson@nhs.net

Editor’s notes:

GPs did better than pharmacies in helping people lose weight in the initial three months, with the average weight loss being 3.8kg (a 4% reduction from initial weight). Pharmacy users of the service lost an average of 2.4kg (2.8% of initial weight) at twelve weeks.  However, by nine months, average weight loss was greater among pharmacy participants (3.4 kg; 4% reduction in initial weight) than those taking part at GP surgeries (2.3kg; 2.2% reduction in initial weight).

Download a copy of the report

The Birmingham and Solihull NHS Cluster comprises Heart of Birmingham Teaching Primary Care Trust, NHS South Birmingham, NHS Birmingham East and North, and Solihull Primary Care Trust.

The cluster has been entrusted by each of the four PCTs to lead the local NHS, receiving over £2.3 billion per year to commission and provide health care for 1.2 million people across the city and borough. Our vision is to strengthen commissioning, improve quality and assure safety, tackle health inequalities and make best use of precious NHS resources.

While PCTs will retain their Boards and statutory responsibilities, the cluster has appointed a single Chief Executive – Denise McLellan, who is the accountable officer for all four PCTs. Denise is supported by an Executive Team which comprises four directors, each of whom is leading on a specific areas of business and transformation.

The NHS faces unprecedented challenges in the years ahead. People are living longer, but with greater health and social care needs. People’s health prospects and expectations are improving, but through expensive drugs and technology that place an additional burden on our limited resources. Coming together in this way provides the best opportunity to tackle the challenges ahead and create a financially sustainable legacy for our clinical commissioning colleagues to whom we handover the role of commissioning in 2013. We have set out how we will do this in our blueprint for health and care across Birmingham and Solihull – the System Plan.

Until then, we will be uniting with patients, clinicians and a wide range of diverse organisations across the region to help us get the best in care and quality of life for all.