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How Xenical Weight Loss Pills Work
Orlistat Obesity Drug Reduces Fat Calorie Absorption in the Gut
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Use of Lipase Inhibitor Orlistat/Xenical for Treatment of Obese Patients

Xenical Weight Loss Pills

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Xenical weight loss pills are prescription-only weight loss pills for the short-term and long-term management of obesity and severe overweight. Xenical weight loss pills are designed to be used along with a mildly reduced-calorie diet (a diet that includes no more than 30% of its calories from fat). A regular exercise program is also an important part of any weight-loss treatment plan. Xenical weight loss pills should not be used as a substitute for healthy eating or regular exercise.

Xenical Weight Loss Pills - How They Work

Xenical (Orlistat) works in the gut (not in the brain) to prevent your intestines from absorbing some of the fat from the food you eat. When taken 3 times a day, Xenical weight loss pills block about one-third of the fat you eat from being absorbed. Instead, this fat passes through your intestines and is excreted. By absorbing less fat, you take in fewer calories, which causes weight loss.

Xenical Weight Loss Pills - Do They Work

Most people lose weight when they take Xenical and follow a calorie-reduced diet.

Studies on Xenical Weight Loss Pills

Obese people who followed a reduced-calorie diet and took Xenical for 12 months lost an average of 8.5 percent of their body weight. Obese people who followed the same diet but did not take Xenical lost an average of 5.4 percent of their body weight.

An analysis of 5 studies found that Xenical combined with a reduced-calorie diet resulted in weight loss of 13.4 lb (6.1 kg) over 1 to 2 years. If the diet alone was followed, weight loss was 5.7 lb (2.6 kg). About 20 percent of those using Xenical plus a reduced-calorie diet lost more than 10 percent of their body weight, compared to 8.3 percent of those who used only the diet.

An analysis of 2 studies found that 28.2 percent to 33 percent of those using Xenical and a reduced-calorie diet the first year and a weight-management diet the second year were able to maintain their weight loss for 2 years, compared to 6.6 percent to 18.6 percent of those who followed the diets but did not take Xenical.

Xenical Weight Loss Pills - Side Effects

The side effects of Xenical are all related to your intestines or bowels. Only very small amounts of Xenical are absorbed into the bloodstream, so it has little effect on other body systems.

Side effects include:

  • Oily spotting, flatulence, and an urgent need to go to the bathroom. This was reported by 22 percent to 27 percent of people who used Xenical.
  • Gas with bowel movements.
  • Oily or fatty stool. The oil seen in a bowel movement may be clear, orange, or brown.
  • An increased number of bowel movements.
  • Inability to control bowel movements.

Note: Some people have these side effects only in the first few weeks of use. Most people have fewer side effects after 1 year of use. Others have them as long as they take Xenical. Most people find these side effects unacceptable if they do not go away in a few weeks. Not being able to tolerate these side effects is the most common reason people stop using this medication.

Xenical Reduces Absorption of Vitamins

Xenical interferes with your body's absorption of some fat-soluble vitamins. When you use Xenical, you should take a daily multivitamin supplement that contains vitamins A, D, E, and K and beta-carotene. Take the multivitamin once a day at least 2 hours before or after taking Xenical, such as at bedtime.

Xenical Weight Loss Pills - How to Reduce Side Effects

The side effects increase when you eat more fat and decrease when you eat less fat. People using Xenical are advised to eat foods with no more than 30 percent fat.

XeniCare Support for Xenical Weight Loss Pills

The manufacturer of Xenical provides a free support program (XeniCare) with your prescription to help you customize your weight-loss plan so that it fits your life. The program mails you personalized information (for example, recipes, exercise suggestions, and help with reading labels) and provides access to a support phone line staffed by nurses.

Health Note: Treatment with Xenical may lower the level of total cholesterol and triglycerides (fats) in the blood, thus it may lower your risk of heart disease. It may also have a positive effect on levels of blood sugar and insulin, which may lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Sources include:

Arterburn D, Noel PH (2001). Obesity. Clinical Evidence, 6: 463–470.

Finer N, et al. (2000). One-year treatment of obesity: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicentre study of Xenical, a gastrointestinal lipase inhibitor. International Journal of Obesity, 24: 306–313.


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