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Diet Drugs in on-line news

Diet drugs always get attention. Too many people have tried everything to lose weight. I want to analyze the information about Alli and Hoodia.

Alli is being promoted by Smith, Kline Glaxo. The write-up is very honest, saying that their pill is not magic and only in addition to exercise and a healthy diet. They say subjects who took Alli lost 2-3 pounds more than the 5 pounds lost by control subjects during the same time. If this is a healthy 5 lbs. a month, will another 2 pounds really make you want to use the pill? It works by causing 25% of the fat in your diet not to be absorbed. However the side effect of loose stools can be troublesome.

The write-up about Alli says nothing about possible non-absorption of desirable oil-soluble vitamins A, D, and E or if it interferes with omega 3 fish oils or flax oil. I’m reminded of a product touted in the 1950s that would keep your body from absorbing sodium so you could keep your blood pressure normal. The product was a synthetic resin. Capsules would be too big, so they advised mixing it with your mashed potatoes. It was unacceptable by the public so marketing ceased. People said why not just use less salt?  Similarly, because of the potentially embarrassing side effects, wouldn’t you rather just use 25% less fat?

Hoodia has a different mode of action.  It is derived from a cactus-like plant, used by natives of the Kalahari Desert to keep from feeling hungry or thirsty when crossing the desert.  Pfizer has spent millions trying to discover the active ingredient. However, Hoodia Plus advertises their version of hoodia on the web. They say it is safe and has no side effects because it is natural. This is misleading. Many natural plant substances do have side effects, depending on the person. Take coffee or tea that has been used by millions, of whom some suffer side effects. Many drugs derived from plants or the parts of plants used by herbalists can have side effects.

Another problem I have is their marketing on-line. Even when you click “Contact Us”, you don’t get an address and phone number you would expect from a reputable company, but only a chance to send them an e-mail after you fill out a form with your name, address and phone number.

Hoodia may well take your appetite away. Remember South American Indians chewed coca leaves for centuries for this effect. Many people world wide have suppressed their appetites by using tobacco. We now know that coca and tobacco products do have side effects even though both are natural.

The reason many diets don’t work and people on them always feel hungry might be because they are eating too few calories and often no fats. If you eat a healthy amount of fat, this will suppress your appetite for hours. I eat a couple slabs of a good quality whole milk cheddar cheese and don’t feel hungry for the next 5 or 6 hours. It’s the low-fat idea that has led to both intractable obesity and more type two diabetes as people think that eating complex carbohydrates is better for you than fats.  I explain more in my posting on Body Fat and Exercise.