After a long wait the United States Food and Drug Administration has finally approved a diet pill which can be purchased over-the-counter and which is aimed at adults suffering from obesity. However, how effective will these new obesity pills be and will they be the answer for the many thousands of obese individuals who find it extremely hard to lose weight?
To a certain extend we already have the answers to these questions because this is not a new drug at all but one that has been in wide use in the United States since 1999. The drug, called Orlistat, is in fact nothing more than a half-dose version of the currently available prescription drug Xenical.
The traditional way to lose weight in cases of obesity is for doctors to begin with a regime of diet and exercise and, if this doesn’t work, to then assist dieting with drugs such as Xenical. If this still doesn’t work, patients may be offered gastric bypass surgery as what many see as the ultimate weight loss solution. This route to weight loss gives a clue to how this new obesity pill is designed to be used.
This is most certainly not a case of simply taking a pill every day and magically losing weight. Orlistat works by blocking up to twenty five percent of the absorption of fat that is eaten and is most effective when it is taken three times a day with meals which contain about fifteen grams of fat. If Orlistat is taken will meals containing more than the recommended fifteen grams of fat it can lead to bowel problems which, depending on who you ask, could or could not be harmful.
Orlistat can also affect the absorption of some vitamins and users therefore need to take daily multivitamin tablets. In addition, the drug is not recommended for people taking any type of blood thinning medication or being treated for diabetes or thyroid problems.
Without an associated program of diet and exercise Orlistat will have little if any effect and you are only likely to derive any benefit from its use when it is taken as part of a strict diet and exercise program. Even here however results are likely to be marginal and many question whether the expected results (predicted from the known effects of Xenical) make using Orlistat worthwhile.
One further question which we should ask is just why the Food and Drug Administration has approved Orlistat for over-the-counter sale at this time. Obesity rates are growing at epidemic proportions and there is increasing pressure to find a solution to this problem before it literally runs out of control. It could be argued therefore that the licensing of Orlistat is nothing more than the FDA bowing to public pressure.
Should, as many people predict, Orlistat prove to be of little or no use it could actually do more harm than good as people suffering from obesity direct their attention towards the drug and away from the need to set themselves a strict program of diet and exercise.