High Street pharmacists in England are now able to refer customers who are concerned about being overweight to a free online NHS service to help them out.

As reported by BBC News the programme is available as a smartphone app and will take around 12 weeks to finish.

It offers support and tips on achieving healthy weight loss, and is designed to help an estimated one in four adults who are obese.

Until now, obese patients with either high blood pressure or diabetes had to be seen by their GP to access it.

To qualify for the programme patients need to have a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 30 or above.

The Argus: Obese patients with a BMI of over 30 can qualify for the programme (PA)Obese patients with a BMI of over 30 can qualify for the programme (PA)

BMI is a measure of whether you are healthy for your weight, taking into account your height, age and gender.

People from Asian, black and minority ethnic backgrounds can join the programme at a lower BMI of 27.5, due to their increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

Dr Bruce Warner, Deputy Chief Pharmaceutical Officer at NHS England, speaking to BBC News, said: "Obesity is a significant threat to the nation's health - it increases your chance of dying from Covid and puts you at greater risk of stroke, cancer and other deadly disease.

"The NHS's radical action plan means it is now easier for people to take control of their health - adults with obesity can now walk into any High Street community pharmacy to take the first step on a life-changing weight-loss journey."

What is a healthy BMI?

Whilst the BMI score does depend on context, for most adults a healthy range is a score between 18.5 and 24.9.

A score from 25 to 29.9 means you're overweight, 30 to 39.9 means your're obese and anything above 40 m ans you're severely obese.