Alli – All it’s cracked up to be?

July 5, 2009


This is the time when the diet industry is maximising it’s advertising as we approach the season of maximum exposure. Great if you are body confident, but the statistics show that the vast majority of women are unhappy with their weight, so the advent of a new ‘miracle’ diet product is greeted with delight, but is it justified?

Alli is on sale at pharmacies like Boots and has been highly featured in magazines as a ‘miracle’ weight loss product, but it is a drug and ought to be treated with caution.

What and how

The pills contain Orlistat that has been used for years but only on prescription to treat obesity. It works by attaching itself to some of that fat in your food and blocking it from being broken down by your body’s natural enzymes. It then passes the fat through your digestive system, into your intestines and eventually out through your bowels. So most of the fat you eat isn’t being absorbed by the body, so those calories aren’t heading for your hips. So what’s the problem?

It won’t get rid of any fat you have already stored, just new intake, so you still have to go on a low calorie diet and these are linked to weight re-gain and unbalanced hormones. Also, these pills strongly suggest you seriously restrict the amount of fat intake you have, but when you block fat from being absorbed in the body, you are blocking the valuable nutrients that fat can provide. You will see those effects in the deteriorating condition of both your skin and hair.

If you go over the fat amount recommendations with Alli you get something called “Treatment Effects”. This has been reported by women as meaning that you will spend a lot of time in the loo as your body rushes to expel the fat straight out of your system, and it will be mostly liquid. Effects include leaking, wet gas, and diarrhoea, plus a sense of urgency you could probably live without.

Risk links you don’t need

The National Cancer Institute in the USA reports a study showing significant increase in the incidence of aberrant crypt foci that are widely believed to be a precursor of colon cancer. There also appears to be a link between Orlistat and breast cancer that the FDA reported as being a higher relative risk of between four and seven times than in women not taking Orlistat. There is also a risk of liver damage from the prescription strength version of Alli available in the USA called Xenical. This is currently under FDA investigation and lists hepatitis as one of the side effects.

There is no doubt that Alli is highly effective for some people, but like all supplements and drugs what suits one may not be ideal for someone else. Popping a pill to lose weight is not a healthy option, sadly the only effective way to diet is to eat less of healthy foods, reduce saturated fats, sugar and alcohol and exercise more. Now if I could get that into a pill I would probably make a fortune!


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