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“2020health is an important and thoughtful contributor to the health debate”

Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, Chairman, Health Select Committee


Press Release Well, well, with your pharmacist monthly, lose weight and increase your chances of a longer life

• Measureable health impact of pharmacy advice demonstrated in yearlong social experiment by Sainsbury’s Pharmacy with ten families across the country
• 65% of participants lost weight and 58% reduced their risk of stroke or heart attack within the next 10 years
• 81% of those found to have high cholesterol levels were not previously aware that they had high levels
• Sainsbury’s Pharmacy introduces new programme “Healthy Living Plan” to help customers manage the risk of cardio vascular disease


The transformational role that pharmacists can play in early detection and prevention of illnesses, along with encouraging people to lose weight and get active, is revealed today in a new report commissioned by Sainsbury’s Pharmacy entitled “The Wells Family Challenge: A Pharmacist First Approach”. The social experiment, independently monitored and evaluated by the respected think tank 2020health, assessed the impact of in-store pharmacy advice on the health and lifestyles of a sample of ten UK families – all with the surname Wells – over the course of 12 months.

The report is clear and strong evidence that regular contact with a pharmacist can have a measurable and positive impact on the public’s health literacy levels, which in turn can prevent illness, shrink waist lines and drive improvements in key health indicators such as cholesterol, blood pressure and weight. The yearlong Wells Family Challenge involved pairing each Wells family from across the country with a pharmacist from their local Sainsbury’s in-store pharmacy. Each family member had an initial health assessment with their pharmacist to develop a personal development plan which was monitored through monthly check-ups.

Exactly one year on, the below results were recorded by 2020health:
• 65% of adult participants lost weight during the course of the year with an average weight loss of 4kg
• On average, women lost 5cms off their waist line
• 58% of participants reduced their risk of a stroke or heart attack
• 68% had unhealthy levels of cholesterol at the start of the challenge but by the end of the challenge this halved to 32%
• The number of participants with high blood pressure halved by the end of the challenge
• 100% of participants said they had an improved understanding of health and diet which will enable them to sustain a healthier lifestyle in the long term
• One year on, 70% still engage in the recommended 30 minutes of daily physical activity

Sainsbury’s response to the Wells Challenge
In response to the report findings and success of the Wells Family Challenge, Sainsbury’s Pharmacy is announcing the national pilot of a three month programme entitled “Healthy Living Plan” which includes tests to assess the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Emphasising the importance of early detection, the Sainsbury’s programme will be available to anyone over the age of 18. At a cost of [£40], the Sainsbury’s “Healthy Living Plan” will include three separate pharmacy appointments over the course of three months that will give each individual customer a personal development plan that will include dietary advice and monthly assessments aimed at proactively managing any risks and encouraging healthier living.

It is widely reported that the NHS Health Check, a similar vascular risk assessment and management programme for people in England aged between 40 and 74, could on average prevent 1600 heart attacks and strokes each year, saving at least 650 lives a year (1). From April 2013, local authorities become responsible for commissioning the NHS Health Check and Sainsbury’s believes that their pilot scheme will highlight the role pharmacists can play in the provision of such services, at the same time as reducing costs to the health care system in the long run.

Chris Perrington, Sainsbury’s Pharmacy Superintendent, who was a practicing pharmacist for over 25 years said, “The Wells Family Challenge detected high blood pressure levels in three out of four sufferers and high cholesterol in 81% of sufferers. This highlights the importance of early intervention and the role pharmacists can play in helping support people to manage the risk of cardio vascular disease. We’ve taken the premise of the Wells Family Challenge and made a similar concept available to all customers aged 18 or over via our new Healthy Living Plan. Offering our customers a series of appointments which they can arrange at their own convenience will hopefully mean our pharmacists can help save lives through early intervention, and potentially help the NHS save some of the £8.6 billion they spend on managing cardiovascular disease (2).

Sainsbury’s believes that good advice from an in-store pharmacy can have a measurable, positive impact on our customers’ health and wellbeing and this is clearly demonstrated by the fact that every family who took part in the challenge experienced positive life changes and health improvements. Over half of them experienced weight loss, reduced blood pressure and reduced cholesterol levels which are the kind of results personal trainers, nutritionists and dieticians across the country strive to achieve for their clients. If a one year challenge can achieve these results for our ten families, there is huge potential for the public and personal impact of regular in store pharmacy advice, five or ten years down the line?”

Lord Howe, Health Minister said: “We welcome this initiative as an excellent example of pharmacists developing innovative new services to help families improve their health and lead healthier lives. This just goes to show the valuable contribution that local community pharmacies are making to help tackle the public health challenges we are facing in this country.“

Commenting on the findings, Julia Manning, CEO of 2020health, said: “The Wells Family Challenge shows that pharmacists can play a key role in improving the health literacy of the nation and educating people on the links between the food they eat, health and preventable illness. At a time when the NHS is under pressure from increasing demand, the results from this type of pilot programme should not be ignored. If pharmacists can act as mentors and empower the public to adopt lifestyle changes that improve their health, as well as better understand the illnesses they experience, then in the long term a pharmacist first approach could take significant pressure off overcrowded GP surgeries.

Heart Research UK’s Lifestyle Manager, Barbara Dinsdale, said:  “It’s great that people using their local pharmacy have been supported and encouraged to make small lifestyle changes. The evidence from this pharmacy challenge shows that people are already benefitting from the small, manageable lifestyle changes they have made which will make a difference in reducing their overall risk of heart disease as well as improving their well-being.”

(1) National Pharmacy Association 2010.   
(2) British Heart Foundation 2012:204     

For more information please contact Sarah Jaconelli, Lana Nabulsi or Orla Swindells on 020 7260 2700 or email

Notes to Editors
Additional documents included in the media pack are as follows:
• Sainsbury’s Pharmacy fact sheet including Health Eating Advisor information
• Case studies on all ten participants of The Wells Challenge
• USB stick containing electronic version of the report
• Detailed methodology included in the report

About The Wells Challenge
Sainsbury’s believes that good advice from an in-store pharmacy can benefit a family’s health. To prove this, the supermarket has challenged 10 families - all with the surname Wells - to improve their health over 12 months by using the support and services of their local Sainsbury’s pharmacist.

2020health analysed and evaluated the data that was tracked as part of the Challenge which took place from November 2011 to November 2012. With the yearlong Challenge complete, 2020health has compiled a recommendations report on the findings.