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The Fat Buster Pill

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009 The Fat Buster Pill

In a recent report in the times by Sarah-Kate Templeton (26 01 09) surrounding the issues of a weight-loss pill that is to go on sale with EU approval. What needs to be determined is how effective are these pills and from that perspective there will be a need to explore the evidence presented.

Laki Trantos a 38 year old, weighed in excess of 18 stones. It was estimated he was also carrying 80 extra pounds for a man of his size. Such was the extent of his problem with his lower back, he was unable to bend down to pick up his own children.

Trantos was also a chef and restaurant manager from New York had wanted to lose weight for a long time but, constantly surrounded by food, he found it difficult to eat low-fat, healthy meals.

Approximately a year ago he decided to try a slimming pill. He was in two minds with regards to the effectiveness of the first over the counter drug called Alli.

Fundamentally, after taking the drug for over two months, Trantos found that it had helped him change his diet and lose almost five stone. A year on he has kept the weight off and is a much healthier 13 stone.

Trantos, who now enjoys weekly cycle rides with his wife and three daughters, said: “I feel so much more energised, I feel younger, I feel like I am on top of the world right now.

“Before, when I was 265lb, I was tired every day. Alli has put me on a better diet and helped me develop better eating habits. I took the drug for two months over a year ago and I was able to maintain the weight I lost.”

The effectiveness of Alli is different to other miracle pills taken, in that it comes with official approval. Furthermore, Alli has also been approved for sale over the counter by all 27 European Union member countries. The pill, which costs about £1 a day, will go on sale in British chemists in the spring.

Essentially, an overview needs to be presented in determining the components of this so called miracle drug.

Alli is a reduced-strength version of a prescription drug called Orlistat (marketed as Xenical), which was designed for obese people and has been in use for 10 years. The Alli capsules, which contain 60mg of Orlistat, half the dose contained in the prescription version, are designed to be taken three times a day with meals. Although the science behind developing them is sophisticated, the way they work is relatively simple.

When you eat fat, enzymes in your digestive juices, called lipases, break it down into molecules small enough to be absorbed from the gut into the bloodstream. Your body uses the fat as energy or, if you are not active enough to require the energy, stores it as fatty tissue, making you gain weight.

Hitherto, Orlistat contains chemicals that attach to the enzymes in your digestive juices, reducing their ability to break down fat. Indeed trials have indicated that those people taking Alli and in addition to a low-fat diet have suggested that they have lost 50% more weight than dieting alone.

According to the Clinical Director of the National Obesity Forum, Dr David Haslam who states, “Research has shown that consumers are spending millions of pounds each year on fad diets, unproven ‘miracle pills’, and potentially unsafe weight-loss supplements.”

Furthermore, he adds, “Medically proven licensed products give consumers the option of something which can genuinely support meaningful weight loss. For many, losing weight can become the catalyst to improvements in their overall health and self-esteem.”

For the maintenance of a healthy body-weight, lifestyle will always be paramount for dieters maintaining their weight loss.

In the United States the pills come with further information such as a healthy eating guide, a calorie and fat counter and a daily journal for dieters to list everything they eat. Some slimmers found the exercise of writing down their daily intake alone shocked them into eating less. In addition a recipe book is available and slimmers are actively encouraged to log on to a dedicated internet support group.

Finally, Cheryl Hartvigsen, a 48-year-old pharmacist who featured on US TV advertisements for Alli, believes she and her family have benefited from a healthier existence after she used the drug.

“I began taking Alli when the product came out in June in 2007. By May of 2008 I had lost 30lb and have continued to keep it off,” Hartvigsen said.

“At present I weigh 110lb. My starting weight was 140lb. While that may not sound impressive, for my 5ft frame I was classified as overweight.”

Equally, as a pharmacist, Hartvigsen likes the fact that Alli is a drug that works on her digestive system, not her brain. She also believes that the drug has helped her re-think her diet through. This is because one of its side effects is that users may well suffer a sudden and urgent need for a lavatory if they eat too much fat while taking the drug.

Hartvigsen says, “Alli re-educated me about basic nutrition,” said Hartvigsen. “I thought I was cooking and eating healthily, but I learnt that I wasn’t. Now my family is eating a low-fat diet along with me.

“Before they tried Alli, several of my friends were concerned they wouldn’t be able to eat cake at their children’s birthday parties. I assured them they could, pointing out that they just couldn’t have a cheeseburger, fries and cake.

“I don’t have dessert at every meal, but I can certainly have it every now and then. Alli makes me think twice about what I eat. It’s like having a coach who makes me do the right thing”.

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