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Birmingham weight loss programme tackles obesity in the city

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."
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."
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."
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