A new national campaign is under way to encourage millions of adults to kick start their health and reduce their risk of serious illness, including COVID-19.
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has said that pharmacists should be central to this new strategy.
The campaign, unveiled as part of the government’s new obesity strategy, encourages adults to introduce changes that will help them work towards a healthier weight, with a suite of free tools and apps supporting people to eat better, drink less alcohol and get active. This includes a new app for the free 12-week NHS Weight Loss Plan, helping people make healthier food choices and learn skills to prevent weight gain.
The current evidence does not suggest that having excess weight increases people’s chances of contracting COVID-19. However, data shows that obese people are significantly more likely to become seriously ill and be admitted to intensive care with COVID-19 compared to those with a healthy BMI.
Professor Kevin Fenton, London Regional Director at Public Health England:
“Gaining weight often happens gradually over time and can be just the odd unhealthy habit mounting up, but extra weight puts pressure on our bodies and reduces our strength to fight off serious diseases, including COVID-19.
“COVID-19 has given us a wake-up call to get our health back on track. We know how hard it can be to lose weight and keep it off – our Better Health campaign aims to make it easier for everyone to introduce changes that will help them maintain a healthy weight. It’s never too late, or too early, to make changes that will have a lasting impact on your health.”
Following the launch of Public Health England Better Health campaign to support patients with obesity and reduce the risk of serious illness, Claire Anderson, Chair of English Pharmacy Board, said:
“We welcome Public Health England’s renewed focus on supporting people to lead healthier lives and reduce their risk of serious illnesses, particularly as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and the evidence coming out.
“As the third-largest profession, pharmacy should be at the centre of any plan to the prevention agenda, support weight management and reducing the risk of serious illness such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. We know that prevention is better than cure and our profession continue this work when supporting the health of our patients.
“As Healthy Living Pharmacies, community pharmacies are best placed as accessible health centres, particularly for those in deprived areas and already play a huge role in reducing the health inequalities, supporting those groups at high risk of Covid-19.
“The pandemic has emphasised that collaborative working across healthcare and will be essential for the success of this strategy. We want to see more integrated working across the NHS to ensure the best patient care possible, including more social prescribing referrals and linking up Primary Care Networks further with community pharmacies.
“It is becoming more obvious that A&E referrals and GP appointments can be treated elsewhere and pharmacies are well placed to ease pressures on other NHS services by supporting people with general wellbeing issues, such as obesity. We now need the backing from the Government and NHS to build on the work our profession continues to do on a daily basis.”