Fat-busting diet pill
An over-the-counter weight-loss pill that its manufacturers say can help people drop a dress size could be available within months.
The drug Alli, made by GlaxoSmithKline, works by reducing the amount of fat the body can absorb. The downside is that the undigested fat cannot be absorbed and so, rather than being stored, it passes through the body causing side effects like gas or diarrhoea.
GlaxoSmithKline emphasise that Alli is not a magic pill. They say that when combined with a low fat diet and exercise regime, Alli can increase weight loss by 50 per cent over six months. For example, if someone were to lose 10 pounds from dieting, they'd lose 15 by combining their diet with Alli.
In the US, where it's been available for six months, sales have reached £75million. In the UK, Alli is expected to cost about £1 per day.
To avoid its embarrassing side effects - dubbed "Alli oops," in the US - it's important that dieters eat less than 42 grams of fat a day or 15 grams per meal. GlaxoSmithKline even advise first-time users to wear dark pants or bring a change of clothes to work until they get used to Alli's potentially yucky consequences.
In an editorial in the British Medical Journal, Professor Gareth Williams warns that, "selling anti-obesity drugs over-the- counter will perpetuate the myth that obesity can be fixed simply by popping a pill."
Dr Colin Waine, chair of the National Obesity Forum, has said: "My concern is that it should not be seen as a panacea for people who want to get into a smaller-sized bikini. It may also be unpleasant - if you eat a high fat diet you will experience the effects. But if used sensibly with the right sort of dietary back-up then this could help some people."
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