Latest weight loss products

What are the latest weight loss products? The market is flooded with weight loss products, all of which offer a quick and easy way to ditch the extra pounds, but choosing which one might actually work can be difficult.

The big news recently has been the availability 'over the counter' drugs that were previously only available on prescription. The two drugs that have been released in this way are Alli (the brand name for a low-dosage version of Orlistat/Xenical) and Appesat.

However, these aren't miracle cures, and you can't simply march into your local chemist and demand them. In fact, pharmacists are required to weigh customers before they can sell them Alli - it can only be bought by adults with a BMI of 28 or more.

Alli works by reducing the absorption of fats from the diet, thereby reducing your calorie intake. If you are taking Alli, you should therefore avoid fatty foods and stick to a reduced-calorie diet. Manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline claims that in clinical trials, "adding orlistat to a reduced-calorie, lower-fat diet, can help people lose 50% more weight than dieting alone".

There are side effects from taking Alli, mostly related to the gut. These include:

  • Oily, diarrhoea-like stools that may leak
  • Wind
  • Frequent or urgent bowel movements
  • Abdominal bloating

There are also several groups of people who should not take Alli, including:

  • Those who have a problem absorbing nutrients
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding women
  • People taking other medication such as ciclosporin, warfarin or other oral anticoagulants
  • Patients with a condition where the flow of bile from the liver is blocked

Appesat takes a different approach to weight loss. Appesat contains a seaweed extract that swells in the stomach and tricks you into feeling full. According to its manufacturers, people taking Appesat felt up to four times more satisfied with the food they had eaten, compared to those who had not used the tablet. They claim that dieters using the pill can lose up to 10lbs (4.5kg) in three months.

Do they work? Unfortunately for those looking for a "magic pill" that makes weight disappear, these drugs are designed to be taken by people who also making sensible lifestyle changes. In other words, you should still be dieting and exercising - these drugs can support those efforts, not replace them.

Another weight loss product you can expect to see more of is Stevia. Stevia is a plant extract that makes a superb, low calorie sweetener, without any of the dangerous side effects associated with saccharine and aspartame.

In December 2008 the US regulatory agency, the FDA, finally gave approval for the widespread use of Stevia in the US - this is likely to increase the pressure on the UK and the EU to license it. In a typically bizarre legal twist, it is currently legal to buy it in the UK, but not to sell it!

These, and other products, are part of an increasingly wide range of options for those looking for lose weight.

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