Does OTC diet pill Alli live up to its name?

The first and only over-the-counter product for weight loss approved by the Food and Drug Administration will be available Friday, June 15.

Orlistat, known by the brand name Alli, works by decreasing the amount of fat absorbed by the body. It is the OTC version of Xenical, a prescription weight loss pill. The good news: Orlistat has been tested and the prescription version has been used since 1999.

Last fall Dr. James Anderson, head of the UK College of Medicine Metabolic Research Group, and his colleagues examined the effects of OTC strength (60 mg) orlistat on mildly to moderately overweight individuals. The study was the first of its kind. Previously, the drug’s effects had only been studied in obese individuals. Study participants took either orlistat or a placebo three times daily with meals for 16 weeks. Results of that study showed those taking OTC-strength orlistat did lose more weight than those taking the placebo.

“Our research showed that people taking orlistat and following low-fat diets lost almost five percent of their initial body weight, about seven to15 pounds, over four months,” Anderson said. “While two to four pounds a month isn’t dramatic, steady weight loss of this amount can have major health benefits. For example, the reduction in LDL-cholesterol, the bad-guy cholesterol, of 10 percent can reduce risk of heart attack by 20 percent.”

Any successful dieter knows that long-term weight loss is about lifestyle changes not quick fixes. While taking Alli may help you lose weight, it won’t do all of the work for you. Anderson stresses a healthy diet and exercise plan are absolutely necessary to lose the weight and keep it off.

“This is the first over-the-counter medicine that has proven effectiveness. It is my hope that people will take one capsule before each regular meal, breakfast, lunch, and supper, and alter their fat and calorie intake,” Anderson said. “If they commit to exercise six days a week, most people can lose weight steadily. All of us are in this for the long haul and need to keep up healthy behaviors, not for days or weeks, but for months and years. Doing regular physical activity and making good food choices will help us be trimmer and give us more energy.”


The material in this press release comes from the originating research organization. Content may be edited for style and length. Want more? Sign up for our daily email.

71 thoughts on “Does OTC diet pill Alli live up to its name?”

  1. Used Alli for about a week now, not obese just looking to lose a few baby lbs. OMG !! Oil ! Better out than in though ! I’ve learned, I only take it when I’m home. I had an incident of oil spotting ! If I had been at work I’d have been pissed !! Luckly I was home. I only take them at night, or in the afternoon after work. Those afraid of side effects should try that. Good Luck.

  2. hey thats great you lost 6lb in 2 wks i lost 3lb on my 1st wk, in my second wk now… thats with not really been on a diet, and my exercise is work!! im happy with the alli there learnin me too eat more healhty to eat less fat etc!! as only gettin runny oily leakage down your leg other wise and need a pad constant if dont eat less fat!!!

    so its a great help!! Mags x

  3. I lost 6 pounds in 2 weeks but can’t stop pooing
    I thought I needed to fart and blasted oily poop all over my underwear!

  4. yes low fat diets cause constipation.. all bran flakes is poser fiber go for the buds and drink plenty of water.. dont eat white flours of any kind…. eat lots of flax seed as it is very effective on the bowels… eat a few tablespoons of whole flax everyday with a probiaotic/prebiotic yogurt doing just those thing will shed the weight.. as it will clean your bowels and cravings will stop as you will be able to absorb more vitamins and minerals.. stop taking senna its taxing on the large intestine

  5. Hello , i am a 47 year old male who has been taking alli for two weeks , ive stook to a healthy low diet for a few months and especially so with alli . I eat bran flakes . wholemeal
    bread low filling’s but my problem although long term and even more so with alli is constipation , i take movicol powder , senna tablets but not even alli move’s me ? Any suggestions ? will adding a little more fat help maybe my diet is too low for alli too work ? Thanks

  6. YES! I also noticed the constipation is gone! I know of several people on similar prescribed meds as I am and one of the huge side effects is constipation. Within 3 days of starting Alli, I immediately noticed a change in bowel movements…for the better! I believe since I was very constipated prior to starting Alli, the fat that is eliminated with the bowel movement, makes me ‘regular’…hence no horrible or embarrassing side effects!!!

  7. I’ve been constipated all my life. After starting Alli and eating a meal with some fat twice a day, I am no longer constipated. No longer taking laxatives or stool softners which never worked. I go to the bathroom regularly without diarhea.

  8. I’m a “middle aged” male who started Alli on February 2, 2008. I was on it for 9 weeks and lost 27 lbs – going from 193 to 166. Since then I’ve fluctuated from 163 to 170 – today at 168. It is a miracle drug. The bonus was the increased energy. Yes, I work out on an elliptical four or five times a week and I try not to be too stupid about what I eat. But those were pounds I’d tried to lose for 5 years.

    I think the success to the program is that the “treatment effects” force you to eat right or else. It’s like having a 24 hour nutritionist on staff. If you don’t follow the guidelines, you might pay for it, so it’s better to just follow the program. And besides, if you don’t follow the guidelines, why waste money on the pill? The other reason it worked for me is, as one who loves to eat, I wasn’t needing to watch calories and food intake so much, only fat grams. So as long as I ate the right things – low fat – the quantity was not as important.

    I never thought I’d try a diet pill but I’m glad I did and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

  9. I first heard of Alli when my brother started taking it a year ago. He probably only used it for about two weeks and I personally didn’t see any results. Well about five months ago I gave birth and while pregnant I didn’t gain any weight. But, as soon as I stopped breast feeding I gained a horrifying 20 pounds. I went out and bought a bunch of exercise equipment even a pilates kit but nothing seem to help. I finally decided after I reached the 170 mark and all my favorite jeans weren’t fitting that I was going to try a diet pill. I went to CVS and asked the Pharmacist opinion on pills and he told me that Alli was the only FDA approved one. So even though it didn’t work for my brother I decided to spend the 60 dollars for the starter kit and I bought a digital scale. Needless to say I started taking Alli on Feb. 23, 2009 and I weighted in at 170.0 Ibs and today which is Feb. 27, 2009 I weigh in at 165.6 Ibs. I haven’t been exercising at all because I am a full time student and mother but I do plan to start. I have been on 1100 calories a day and eating only 10 grams of fat a meal (To avoid the bathroom situation which lucky I haven’t encountered yet.) I snack on Special K Chocolate bits with skim milk between meals, and I bake everything. Also, I cut out soda and bought a bunch of bottled water and Crystal light to go packs. So after 4 days I can honestly say I am having great results with Alli and even learned some self control.

  10. can you tell me about the stool problems i heard some people say to be carefull that you don’t poop your pant’s i cant afford for that to happen no way,so can you please explain your exp. to me, also can you share with me the gum that you have lost your 55lbs off of and congrad’s on your accomplishments!!!!! please e-mail me @ [email protected] thank’s much for the warnining!!!!(yikes) (lol)

  11. I am a 48 year old woman, 5’2″, and my starting weight was 192 lbs. In early Feb. I decided I needed to do something about my weight…..for my own good, so I thought I’d try Alli. I am now down to 173! Sure, I am eating right (mostly) and exercising, but I do believe Alli has helped. I’ve dealt with the cause effects a little bit and it hasn’t been too bad. All you have to do is just remember to not eat so much fat. It’s not that difficult. I am overall pleased with Alli and would recommend it to anyone who is really ready. If you’re not willing to give up the fat and calories then you aren’t ready for Alli. Good luck to everyone.


  12. Can you tell me how many hours after a fatty meal do the side effects start (the oil discharge) and how many hours does it last? I would like to use Alli at night only and was wondering if I am safe during the day if I just take 1 pill at supper time, does the discharge occur during sleep time in that case or is it immediatly after the meal?

  13. I think the major reason why people give up on alli is their misunderstanding of how the drug works. Alli is NOT a hunger suppressant. It never promises that you can eat whatever you want and control your appetite. It simply promises to block a percentage (25%) of the fat your body absorbs. Common sense would then lead one to realize that if your body is not absorbing that fat, it has to go SOMEWHERE. Whatever the body DOES NOT USE is eliminated as WASTE… hence, those of you who refuse to accept the fat that you need to cut down the fat intake dramatically will find yourselves in a very bad position eg. hovering over the toilet with oily crap running down your leg at the mall. Keep in mind as well, that will power is a major key to the success of this pill. YOU MUST be WILLING to NOT eat the FAT! Why? Alli IS NOT a hunger suppressant. YOU must control your own hunger. Will power, exercise, right choices, low fat diet and plain old common sense will allow you to be successful at using Alli without side effects of any kind.

  14. I love to eat and I hate dieting. Is thtere anything low fat, filling, and god tasting to eat while on the Alli pill?

  15. Hi, well I tried the Alli pills and I will not continue! I found a good gum that stops me feeling hungry. It’s cheap and I have lost 55Lb now, I wont go back to the Alli pills due to the toilet problems.

  16. I have been taking Alli for one week and have not exceeded the 15 grams of fat per meal (I am very careful not too) but I have persistent uncomfortable stomach/gastro issues such as gas (and yes, I am afraid to fart sometimes in case of the unwanted side effect, which I have not experienced as of yet).

    Here is how I feel at every meal:
    rumbling in my stomach/gastro area
    foul smelling gas and bowel movements
    heartburn and I have not heard anyone yet complain about that, but I am getting it and never have before???!

    I am a 42 year old male, who is 6’2″, 223lbs and lost about 7 pounds over a month ago and so tried to add this on to see if I could drop another 7 in the next month. I do excercise, which gets easier as you get thinner and will see this through a month to see if it makes a meaningful difference, if not, then I cannot put up with this discomfort. I believe in no pain no gain, so they should use the slogan pain = no gain (LOL). Trying to stay upbeat about losing weight and getting healthier.


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