Is the New OTC “Alli” Just Money Down the Toilet?
Who couldn’t lose a few pounds? Ok, we all know of some people who are perfect just the way they are, but if you are reeling from your Freshman 15, or are just suffering the consequence of 3 kids in 5 years (yes, you are reading that right), then maybe the new over-the-counter weight-loss option “Alli” has caught your attention.
Pronounced liked the wartime friend (not the boxer), Alli is causing a buzz in pharmacies and discount stores across the nation. Heavily advertised and readily available, it may first appear to be a safe alternative to weight-loss “miracles” loaded with ephedra or hoodia. Claiming to be in a league of its own, while free from the anxiety and nervousness-related side affects of previous diet pills, Alli promises results of 50% more weight-loss than dieting and exercise alone. But at what cost?
Critics of the pill are focusing in on the main ingredient of the once-prescribed formula. At only a half-strength of its prescription counterpart, the 60mg of Orlistat has been deemed safe enough to be taken without a doctor’s recommendation by the FDA. If you are not familiar with Orlistat, let me refresh your memory. Does anyone remember when Pringles Fat-Free chips were first manufactured? With Olestra being a main ingredient, consumers were suddenly introduced into the world of fecal incontinence and something referred to as “anal leakage.” (Sorry to gross you out folks, but this is important stuff here.) I remember laughing with my friends at a party where the chips were served. What kind of marketing genius puts the “may cause anal leakage” warning within an inch of “Now with more flavor!” on the chip canister?
At least the makers of Alli have been more than upfront about the casual side-effects of their new baby. Taken directly from the Alli website:
“The active ingredient in alli attaches to some of the natural enzymes in the digestive system, preventing them from breaking down about a quarter of the fat you eat. Undigested fat cannot be absorbed and passes through the body naturally. The excess fat is not harmful. In fact, you may recognize it in the toilet as something that looks like the oil on top of a pizza.”
“alli™ works by preventing the absorption of some of the fat you eat. The fat passes out of your body, so you may have bowel changes, known as treatment effects. You may get:
- gas with oily spotting
- loose stools
- more frequent stools that may be hard to control”
Users are then encouraged to do the following:
“ You may feel an urgent need to go to the bathroom. Until you have a sense of any treatment effects, it's probably a smart idea to wear dark pants, and bring a change of clothes with you to work
You may not usually get gassy, but it's a possibility when you take alli. The bathroom is really the best place to go when that happens”
Phew! And just as I was starting to wonder where I will go in my workplace to spare my coworkers from the wrath of my flatulence…..
While any attempt to improve overall health by maintaining a healthy weight should be commended, my personal take on this product is clear. At $45-70 a month for something that will help me lose only 5 of the 15 pounds I will have to work hard to lose anyway, I think I’ll save my money. With what amounts to a day’s work, I can buy a good pair of running shoes, a decent multivitamin, and Subway; and none of my hard-earned money will end up in the toilet.