Friday 29 April 2011

Alli/Orlistat - weight loss drug - By David Stache

By David Stache

Gassy discharge, oily discharge, inability to control bowel movements and oily or fatty stools, doesn’t sound too appealing does it? Well that’s the side effects of Alli, previously a prescription only medicine under the name of Orlistat which is to be released for over the counter sale this week in the UK. A drug which inhibits fat digestion therefore the fat in the meal you’ve just eaten doesn’t get digested by the body thus passing straight through and giving you the aforementioned side effects. So is this a Good move? A Needed move? Irresponsible move? Or bad a move by the government?

At this stage it’s hard to say what the effect this will have on the industry, one thing is for sure though, this drug completely ignores the real underlying issues of growing obesity which are carbs and sugars. Comparative credible studies of current diets show that a low GI diet is more effective not only for weight loss but also health when compared to low fat diets.

For so long it has been fats that are evil, dropping fats = losing the lbs, but as a nation we are not big fat eaters now, in fact we are becoming increasingly deficient in essential fats and a drug that inhibits digestion of fats doesn’t seem to be the answer to the problem at all.

Further to this some Vitamins are actually fat soluble such as Vitamins D and E, so in effect this drug cuts the absorption of these vital vitamins down and stops the body using them, so there’s little essential fats and minimal vitamins D and E in the diet and what little there is… this drug inhibits their absorption. Add to that the fact this drug is now available over the counter which puts the responsibility on the user to assess whether there any implications of prolonged use and it seems this may not have been the smartest move by the government.

The main worry is that this product will be aggressively marketed with little in terms of correct guidelines and education given to users and even if the guidelines are as they should be, we now find ourselves living in a ‘quick fix’ mentality bubble so will people who strive to look like the airbrushed models actually stick to the guidelines? If they don’t there will be few immediate signals that something is wrong, vitamin deficiencies build up over time and when coupled with a low calories diet starving the body of even more vitamins it becomes quite an irresponsible way to lose weight.

In terms of it’s effectiveness I feel I can comment on this with a fair bit of conviction and when I say there are much better alternatives out there I truly mean it, having witnessed first hand someone remove a fat laden sanitary towel which was not a pleasant experience I can honestly say this drug left me asking why? (The person in question was male too, and yes he was wearing a sanitary towel to catch the leaking fat). I’ve seen many boundaries pushed when it comes to people and their body image but this one bemuses me, why take a tablet then eat an unhealthy meal? It’s like going for a run and rewarding yourself with a fry up!

As a prescription drug Orlistat wasn’t even found to be that effective either, maybe this is why the government have let it be sold over the counter; either way a drug that has the potential to be harmful and doesn’t give guaranteed results is one that should be avoided.

As said there are better options out there when it comes to weight loss, starting with a different approach to food and diets, shifting to a healthier diet is not always easy but it gives guaranteed prolonged results, something Alli cannot do.

If you must use this drug, use it properly and make sure you speak to your doctor first, look at alternative options and decide if you want a quick fix that lets you eat what you want or to switch to a diet that wont have you ballooning back up to what you once were once you’ve stopped using it.

Written by David Stache

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