Health crusade targets 64% of overweight Northern Ireland adults
Obesity is now the norm rather than the exception, a top health official has said.
According to research which was conducted by the NI Health Survey, obesity in Northern Ireland has gradually increased and the proportion of overweight and obese adults was 64% in 2017/18 (27% obese; 37% overweight).
The PHA pointed out that this means nearly two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese.
As a result, the agency has launched its new Living Well service to try and raise awareness and combat the issue.
The scheme is a partnership between the PHA, the Health and Social Care Board and Community Pharmacy NI.
The Living Well service supports the Making Life Better public health strategy, which aims to help people make healthier choices.
The scheme is the second of five Choose to Live Better campaigns.
Over the coming months more than 500 community pharmacies across NI will be encouraging pharmacy visitors to think about their weight and offer them advice.
Every day, one in 10 people visits a pharmacy.
People can discuss such issues with pharmacy workers who are healthcare professionals, especially when other healthcare providers are unavailable.
Studies show that people interact with community pharmacists on average, 12 to 15 times a year, often using the same pharmacy each time.
Therefore, the PHA hopes that by engaging in these conversations it can raise awareness about healthy eating and physical activity as a way of improving health.
Caroline Bloomfield, the Public Health Agency lead on obesity prevention, said: "In recent years the prevalence of overweight and obesity has gradually risen."
She added: "We want to increase patient and public knowledge and understanding of the importance of a healthy weight and heighten awareness of the health impacts of being overweight or obese."
Joe Brogan, who is head of Pharmacy and Medicines Management at the HSCB, said: "It is recognised that community pharmacies are well placed to provide a focal point for the provision of health advice."
He added: "Community pharmacies are often open when other healthcare providers are unavailable.
"And they offer convenient access to a trained healthcare professional without an appointment."