Obesity increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer, reducing both the quality and quantity of life. Consequently, government healthcare costs are significant. A greater than 5% reduction in weight has been shown to result in significant improvements in type II diabetes, blood pressure and cholesterol levels and therefore effective interventions are required. This paper reports the results from 17 years of delivering a private, individualised very low calorie diet (VLCD) programme in community pharmacy. In line with national guidelines, a community pharmacy-based private weight management service was set up to support individuals over the age of 18. After assessment for clinical suitability, individuals were offered either a flexible weight loss plan or a strict weight loss plan using a very low calorie diet (VLCD). The VLCD was delivered using the protocols of the proprietary programme, Lipotrim™. These individuals followed one or more dieting sequences, defined as at least one week of attendance whilst following the VLCD, without discontinuation, producing at least a start and end weight. Data were recorded weekly and audited for this report including weight and BMI on initial presentation, weight and BMI lost and % weight and BMI loss. A total of 1875 dieting sequences were recorded from 1023 dieters. In 1261 (67.3%) sequences, a medically beneficial weight loss of >5% was achieved. Overall, the cohort demonstrated mean (sd) % weight losses of 10.1% (7.7). Mean (sd) % weight losses seen in people with type 2 diabetes was 10.4% (2.7) and 10.6% (5.9) in hypertension. In total, 555 diet sequences accessed long-term weight maintenance support. In 173 (31%) of these cases, a second weight check post weight loss could not be made. The remaining 382 individuals presenting showed a mean (sd) weight gain of only 1.4 kg (4.3) equating to a mean (sd) % weight gain of only 1.8% (4.6) over a mean (sd) number of days post weight-loss of 132 days (179). The results from this long-term review demonstrate that with proper provision of a nutritionally complete VLCD, through private service provision, community pharmacies can make a significant contribution to reducing the obesity epidemic at no cost to state-funded health systems.
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