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The active ingredient in Xenical, Orlistat works by reducing the amount of fat that is broken down in the stomach and absorbed into the body.

Research suggests that Orlistat can reduce the body’s absorption of fat by up to 30%, while also helping the body to expel fats in the faeces. This can make a significant difference to the total number of calories your body takes in – fat has over twice the calories per gram of protein and carbs.

Doctors typically only prescribe Orlistat to obese people with a body mass index (BMI) in excess of 30kg/m² - this is considered severely obese. If you are extremely overweight you should talk to your doctor about medications of this nature.

As with any powerful medication, there are side effects, which can sometimes be severe. These include can uncontrollable rectal discharges, overall loss of bowel control, diarrhoea, rectal pain and bleeding, liver inflammation and fatigue.

Because of the way this drug works, it also has other effects on the digestive process, each of which can impact your health. These include:

  • Using this drug may reduce the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A,D,E,K). Your diet should therefore be rich in fruit and vegetables, and you should take a multivitamin supplement.
  • The possible diuretic effects of this medication can reduce the effectiveness of oral contraceptive pills
  • This drug has not been tested on those under 12, on the elderly, or on those with impaired liver or kidney function.
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