Is Alli, the new weight loss pill, safe and effective?
Alli is a less potent version of the prescription diet pill, Xenical (orlistat). At half the dosage of the prescription version, experts feel that its potential for abuse and overall risk is low enough to be safe for over-the-counter use.
According to a GlaxoSmithKline press release, the safety and efficacy of orlistat is supported by more than 100 clinical studies. This includes the four-year landmark XENDOS trial, the longest study ever of a weight loss medicine. More than 22 million people have used orlistat.
Alli isn't a magic weight loss pill, and its makers don't claim that it is. They are adamant that daily exercise, a reduced-calorie diet, and a specific diet plan that limits the amount of fat you eat accompany the use of Alli. If you overeat on carbohydrates, protein and/or fat, you will not lose weight by taking Alli. If you eat more fat than recommended in a single meal (15 grams or less), you'll experience some pretty embarrassing and serious side effects, and still might not lose weight by taking Alli. Just like any weight loss plan, it involves counting and cutting calories, reading food labels, limiting high-fat foods, and exercising regularly. It takes determination and consistency to see results.
Xenical, the full-strength prescription version of orlistat, hasn't lived up to its promise, according to most experts. Data presented to the FDA suggest that the Alli program works best in those who are very overweight, but results are modest at best. In clinical trials, severely overweight subjects who took the drug for six months lost about five pounds more than those taking a placebo. In another four-month trial, moderately overweight people lost about 2-1/2 pounds more than the control group.
The modest benefits of Alli aren't likely to last in the long-term. Alli is marketed for short-term use only, and follow-up suggests that people start to regain weight once they stop taking it.
SparkPeople's experts believe that healthy lifestyle changes are keys to long-term success at weight loss and health improvements. Along with that, our fitness and nutrition experts recommend staying away from quick fixes and other unsafe or questionable practices. When it comes to diet pills, we have always advised against them. And even though Alli is FDA-approved, making it safer than any other diet pill on the market, we do not recommend the use of this product.
To learn more about how Alli works and why SparkPeople's experts do not recommend it, read Discussion about Alli.
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