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There is an urgent need for the entire healthcare workforce to be involved in efforts to improve diet and physical activity across populations, the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) said recently as it released ‘Nutrition and weight management services: A toolkit for pharmacists’ to support the profession in this endeavour. 

“Poor diets are responsible for more deaths than any other behavioural risk factor, including tobacco smoking, and up to five million deaths per year could be prevented if populations were more physically active. Pharmacists, while primarily trained to promote health through pharmacological means, are ideally positioned to help people to improve their nutrition and manage their weight because their easy, frequent accessibility means they can be on-hand to help people maintain lifestyle changes, which is something people often find most difficult,” said Mr Gonçalo Sousa Pinto, FIP lead for practice development and transformation.

To support pharmacists in providing nutrition and weight management services, the new FIP toolkit explains the impacts of nutrition in a range of non-communicable and communicable diseases, describes supplementation with micronutrients and weight management strategies (including pharmacological), and presents pharmacist interventions, such as education and health coaching.  

“Pharmacists have an opportunity to make an even greater impact on the health of their communities by involving nutrition and weight management as a vital component of their approach to patient care. This toolkit aims to provide support and guidance for pharmacists to be proactive in having conversations on diet and weight with their patients, and we encourage more of the profession to adopt these services,” said Associate Professor Ingrid Gelissen, a report contributor from the University of Sydney School of Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine and Health, Australia.