Knoxville (WVLT) - We're covering East Tennessee health, with the benefits and side effects of the diet drug, Alli.
Alli is the over-the-counter version of the FDA approved fat blocker, Xenical.
It hit drug store shelves on June 15th.
The over-the-counter version is half the strength of Xenical, but it's the same drug, and it has many of the same embarrassing side effects.
For some dieters, it could be the closest thing to a magic pill.
But it's more than just a pill, it's a program, involving a reduced calorie, low-fat diet, regular walking and toning exercises and behavioral changes.
Alli works by blocking the absorption of fat in the gastrointestinal tract, but the fat has to go somewhere, hence the side effects.
"This is not for, oh, I just want to eat some pizza, and you know, take this medicine so I don't absorb the fat in the pizza. I mean, I would not want the side effects if you took pizza and took this medicine at the same time,” Doctor Raye-Anne Ayo says in the recommended Alli diet, one-third of calories come from fat, one-third come from protein and the final third come from carbs.
And if you do eat a high fat meal, you could have an uncontrollable bowel movement and other related side effects.
The drug's manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline says if you take Alli and follow a sensible low-fat diet and exercise, you will lose 50 percent more weight than you would with diet and exercise alone.
For example, instead of losing 10 pounds, a person who takes Alli will lose 15 pounds.
"If you're a person who already has healthy eating habits, and doesn't eat a lot of fat, I'm not sure how much that this medication will help you,” says Dr. Ayo.
Some critics argue Alli works so well, it may also block the absorption of vitamins and minerals, which is why it's recommended you take a multivitamin at bedtime, in order to completely absorb its contents.
GlaxoSmithKline says you can't just try Alli, you have to commit to it.
And they encourage you to read more about it and talk to your doctor before you buy Alli.