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A community pharmacy weight management programme: an evaluation of effectiveness

David Morrison1, Philip McLoone1*, Naomi Brosnahan2, Louise McCombie2, Andrea Smith3 and Janie Gordon3

Author Affiliations

1 West of Scotland Cancer Surveillance Unit, Public Health Research Group, Institute of Health and Wellbeing, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8RZ, Scotland, UK

2 Counterweight Ltd, c/o Brodies LLP, 15 Atholl Crescent, Edinburgh EH3 8HA, Scotland, UK

3 NHS Fife, Pentland House, Lynebank Hospital, Halbeath Road, Dunfermline KL11 8JH, Scotland, UK

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BMC Public Health 2013, 13:282  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-282

Published: 27 March 2013



Community pharmacies may offer an accessible way of delivering weight-management programmes but there have been few trials that use clinically significant weight loss outcomes, objective measures of weight and follow-up to 12 months. We aimed to evaluate weight change among patients who used the Counterweight weight management programme delivered by community pharmacies.


The Counterweight Programme was introduced into community pharmacies in Fife, Scotland in 2009 for patients with a BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2 or a BMI ≥ 28 kg/m2 with a co-morbidity in localities in which Counterweight was not available at GP practices. The aim was to achieve an energy deficit of 500-600 kcal per day. Counterweight specialist dietitians delivered training, support and patient information materials to community pharmacies. Patient weight was measured by pharmacy staff at each weight management session. Weight data recorded at each weight management session were used to estimate weight change and attendance at 3, 6 and 12 months.


Between March 2009 and July 2012, 458 patients were enrolled by the community pharmacies. Three-quarters of patients were women, mean age was 54 (SD 7.4) years and mean BMI 36.1 (SD 5.9) kg/m2. Of 314 patients enrolled for at least 12 months, 32 (10.2% on an intention to treat basis) had achieved the target weight loss of ≥5%; this was 41.6% of those who attended at 12 months representing a mean weight loss of 4.1 kg. Using Last Observation Carried Forward, 15.9% achieved the target weight loss within 12 months of enrolling. There was no significant effect of sex, baseline BMI or age on weight loss.


The Counterweight pharmacy programme has a similar effectiveness to other primary care based weight management programmes and should be considered as part of a range of services available to a community to manage overweight and obesity.

Obesity; Weight management; Pharmacy; Counterweight; BMI