Pharmacists in Obesity Management

Tuesday I spoke on obesity treatment to around 100 pharmacists from the Capital Health Region. For many of the attendees, this was the first time they heard a formal “CME” on obesity. This is unfortunate.

Pharmacists are the frontline health professionals who are probably most often asked about weight management. They are accessible, well versed in practice guidelines and of course dispense and sell both prescriptions and non-prescription remedies for weight management.

Pharmacists also regularly dispense the host of medications that can promote weight gain and they could therefore also play an important role in preventing iatrogenic obesity by warning their clients about potential weight gain and recommending preventive strategies- after all preventing weight gain is always easier than trying to lose those extra pounds once they’re there.

The idea of engaging pharmacists in weight management is very much in line with the role for Pharmacists promoted by Alberta Health and Wellness, which in its recent Action Plan on Health 2008-2009 calls for immediate actions in expanding the role of pharmacists in preventing and managing chronic diseases.

The notion of engaging pharmacists in obesity management is also the goal of the National Obesity Certification Program for Pharmacists offered by the Ontario Pharmacist Association in collaboration with the Canadian Obesity Network.

Given the magnitude of the obesity epidemic – there is a role for ALL health professionals in promoting evidence-based obesity prevention and treatments.

Edmonton, Alberta