Alli is not the quick fix.
A medically proven diet pill called ‘Alli’ will be available in the UK from Summer 2009. The key difference is that you will not need a prescription from your doctor, as it will be available at pharmacies and sold over-the-counter for about £1.
The actual name of the licensed drug is Orlistat and is more commonly known as ‘Alli.’ It is aimed at obese people who have a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 28 or more.
The drug had major trials and has allowed slimmers to lose about 10lbs over 6 months. It works by absorbing the fat from food. In the UK, it is produced by GlaxoSmithKline and is about half the strength of the prescription dieting drug Xenical.
Volunteers who trialed the drug took a tablet with every meal and lost on average 50% more weight compared to other volunteers who did not use the drug and depended on will-power. For a lady slimmer, losing about 10lbs is the same as whole dress size, which will no doubt make this pill attractive to obese people desperate to lose weight.
Like with any drug, there are side effects. The main one is that since the drug absorbs the fat from food, it has to get rid of it from the body through the waste passage. Therefore, people using the pill are likely to experience more gas, bloating and diarrhoea.
Andrea Giancoli, a Registered Dietician (American Dietetic Association), says that when you first start taking the Alli pill the side effects you may experience are loose or watery motions and some possible leakage from the waste passage. This is highly dependent on how much fat you consume whilst taking the medication, which is ideally no more than 45 grams a day and also, that you do not take more than the prescribed dose of the one pill a day . Therefore, a low fat diet is highly recommended when taking this pill.
Giancoli suggests that starting the medication should ideally take place at the weekend. Because this can help with what are known as the ‘Alli Oops’ which are the mishaps that can happen when you start the drug. Such as leakages and the urge to go to the toilet unexpectedly. This will happen until you stabalise its use by eating fat that balances with the drug.
Andrea says that Alli is an aid to weight loss and should not be seen as a cure to weight loss. It must be taken responsibly following the instructions supplied with the pill and you have to be committed to taking the course to get results. Most importantly she says, “Alli is not the quick fix.”
Fat soluble vitamins need to be taken along with a course of the Alli pill because as well absorption of the fat, these vitamins are also absorbed. For example, vitamins A, D and E.
Doctors are not happy about the drug and feel that people wanting to use the pill should still see their GP (General Practitioner) for advice before using it. Because of how it could affect any other medication a person is taking and also, there could be other ways of addressing their obesity.
People will need to be screened and asked questions by the pharmacist regarding their need for the pill before they are sold it over-the-counter. There are questions raised regarding whether pharmacists are suitably trained for this. Graham Phillips, who is a community pharmacist and adviser to the National Obesity Forum, said he saw no problem with introducing the pill at chemists. He said that a training pack will be provided to pharmacists telling them how to measure BMI quickly and do waist measurements.
Professor Alan Maryon-Davis, president of the Faculty of Public Health, thinks that it is a useful pill to help people who are trying to lose weight but is worried that people will not get the advice and support needed and that the pill should be used in conjunction with a good exercise and diet regime. He said “crucial thing is that this is done responsibly and that pharmacists really do engage with this and make sure people do get that advice that goes with this pill.”
So, for those who are obese and want to lose weight quickly, there is evidence that this drug will help but it cannot be seen as the ‘wonder’ pill and definitely must not be used as the sole method to lose weight. The side effects are not very pleasant and may well put people off but without doubt, it is likely this pill will be used by many including desi people because obesity is a major problem within desi communities and this could be the one way to help address this issue. However, it does not exclude the regime of healthy eating, exercise and lifestyle changes which all help too.