How Effective Is Orlistat for Weight Loss?

Lainie Petersen

Studies on orlistat for weight loss demonstrated that 57 percent of those who take the drug for a year lose five percent or more of their body weight. After two years of taking orlistat for weight loss, 40 percent of the trial subjects had lost five percent or more of their body weight. It should be noted that these percentages are averages compiled from several different studies and that some trial subjects lost considerably more than 5% of their original body weight. There was also a definite difference between the weight loss results for those who actually consumed orlistat during the trials and those who were given a placebo. Another consideration is that after the trial ended, those who discontinued taking orlistat for weight loss gained back, on average 35% of the weight that they lost while on the orlistat regimen.

A doctor should be consulted before embarking on any unconventional weight loss program.
A doctor should be consulted before embarking on any unconventional weight loss program.

Orlistat, sold as a prescription drug in the United States and now available over-the-counter, is a weight loss drug that blocks the absorption of fats contained in food. Those who take orlistat for weight loss are typically instructed to reduce both the amount of calories they consume each day and limits food choices to those foods that obtain less than 30 percent of their calories from fat. As the orlistat blocks the absorption of fat, those who use the drug and absorbing fewer calories which can result in weight loss.

Like many weight loss pills, orlistat generally does not produce extreme weight loss, but can nonetheless produce a modest weight loss that may significantly improve the quality of life in those who use the drug. Many people find that even losing small amounts of weight can affect how they feel and look, and this weight loss may affect other health measurements. For example, many of those who were treated with orlistat in clinical studies saw a decrease in their blood pressure and some diabetics were able to discontinue taking their diabetes medication.

Orlistat is not without side effects, which may include abdominal cramping and diarrhea caused by the inability of those who use orlistat for weight loss to properly digest fats. Over time, however, these symptoms subside in many people. These symptoms are also not as serious as some associated with other weight loss drugs, which include an increase in blood pressure as well as the risk of both heart attacks and strokes.

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