Community outreach

Eoghan O’Brien explains how a fundraising project led to his pharmacy becoming more involved in community health.

When the local Gaelic football club organised a fundraising competition called ‘The Biggest Loser’, based on the weight-loss TV show, Eoghan O’Brien, of Bannside Pharmacy, was invited to give a talk on nutrition. This led to an opportunity where the pharmacy became more involved, with staff giving dietary advice as people were having their weigh-in at the club.

If participants couldn’t make the weigh-in, they were advised to pop into the pharmacy instead.

Eoghan says that it worked well. ‘As well as weight, the pharmacy took blood pressure measurements, monitored those that were elevated and found that most people improved significantly over the nine weeks of the competition. Plus, we referred a couple onto a GP and their medication was adjusted, so it was a good way to screen patients.’

Eoghan reports that the overall statistics were very encouraging – the combined weight loss of the 85 final participants was 56.85 stone, an average of a pound, per person, per week – although he admits that he can’t take all the credit.

‘The exercise part, organised by the club, was very important, but we gave sound dietary advice,’ he says.

‘Since the study, we put out a display table at the pharmacy with various products on it and how many sugar lumps they contained – it’s very powerful. A cereal box might tell you how much corn and nuts it contains, but it won’t tell you that it’s 35 percent sugar. We showed the participants how to interpret food labels, as these can be very misleading.’

Eoghan is keen to share information with as many people as possible to show how community pharmacy can get involved in a process that can benefit people’s health.