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Health Guide Review: 2,5/5

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Alli Review: Does it work?

Intro: What is it?

Alli is a weight loss pill approved by the FDA which claims to help reduce 25% of the fat you eat. It’s also made to help a person reduce an extra pound for every 2 pounds lost on their own.

A low calorie and reduced fat diet are needed, and it’s made specifically for overweight people.  Only people with a BMI of 25 or higher are advised to supplement. Results are expected within the first 2 weeks when taken alongside diet and exercise.  The company mentions that studies have shown people losing between 5 to 10 pounds in 6 months. Are all these claims true? What can Alli really do, and is it safe? This review has all the information you need about Alli.

Alli Ingredients

Orlistat 60 mg FD&C Blue No. 2 Edible Ink Gelatin
Iron Dioxide Microcrystalline Cellulose Povidone Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
Sodium Starch Glycolate Talc Titanium Dioxide

Orlistat: Known as a lipase inhibitor, it blocks some of the absorption of fat in the body. This fat is then removed through the stool.  It’s made specifically to work alongside a low calorie diet. It’s known to often produce side effects such as:

  • Loose and or oily stools.
  • Excess gas and bloating.
  • Severe liver injury.
  • Colon cancer.
  • Colon lesions.
  • Severe stomach pain.
  • Hives and rashes.
  • Wheezing, difficulty breathing or swallowing.

A one year study published by the Cochrane Library showed that

current anti-obesity agents (Orlistat) appear modest”

This year study showed people losing around 4.4 to 6.6 pounds.  After stopping treatment most people regained weight quickly.

In this yearlong study, this means that people lost around 0.36 to 0.55 pounds a month.

FD&C Blue No. 2: Water soluble food coloring with no nutritional value. A science journal called The Lancet revealed that it caused hyperactivity. Other studies showed it lead to an increase of brain cancer and abnormal cell function.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest has petitioned the FDA to ban it from being used in foods. According to them, this ingredient is unnecessary and potentially toxic.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate:  Commonly used in cleaning products such as detergents and shampoos. It’s effective for cleaning stains. It removes oils from the skin and it’s known to potentially cause eye and skin irritations.

Sodium Starch Glycolate: White powder extracted from many starchy foods. It’s used to help tablets and pills dissolve better when absorbed. Since it can come from potential allergens, those allergic to gluten or corn can experience allergies.

Alli Quality of Ingredients

Since this is an FDA approved over the counter, it can produce some weight loss effects. However, a long term study showed that people can only lose up to a maximum of 6.6 pounds in a year.

There’s also 10 out of 11 ingredients only added to make the pill look and absorb in a certain way. Some of these additives are potential allergens which can potentially cause hyperactivity, allergic reactions, skin irritations, and even abnormal cell development.

Orlistat is the only active ingredient and it’s not been shown to be a long term solution for weigh toss, since many people who stop taking it quickly regain their weight.

At around a half a pound of weight loss or less each month, there are cheaper and more effective alternatives.

The Price and Quality of Alli

There are no direct sales but Alli is available in many retail stores. The average price for 120 pills is $69.99. This means that at the advised 3 capsules a day, the daily price would be:

$69.99/40= $1.74 for a daily serving.

The lack of significant weight loss is a major negative factor. Overall, the brand hasn’t shown itself to be a long term weight loss solution. Also, losing fat through one’s stool is known to potentially lead to colon cancer and lesions.

FDA Notice of Liver Injuries

The key advice ingredient Orlistat has been linked to cases of liver injury, and there are also cases of people taking Alli who have experienced difficult side effects.

According to their reports:

severe liver injury as a potential safety concern with Orlistat use”

These cases revealed the following problems with Orlistat:

  • 2 patients died due to their liver failing.
  • 3 people had to get a liver transplant.
  • One Alli user had severe liver injuries.

The FDA also adds that if you experience yellowing skin, fever, vomiting, weakness, loss of appetite, or dark urine, that you should seek the help of a healthcare professional as soon as possible. These are the signs of liver damage.

The potential for liver injuries was also a concern mentioned by the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research board, which overlooks drug safety.  In their research they believed Allis key active ingredient was a potential health hazard.

Fat Reduction

In order to use this brand it’s advised to have no more than 15 grams of fat in one meal. The company highly suggests limiting calories and fats, since fat heavy meals can produce side effects for up to 3 days.

The way Alli is meant to work is by limiting the absorption of fats by up to 25%. However, this same effect also reduces the body’s ability to properly intake fat soluble vitamins. So this reduces the effects of vitamins A, E, K, beta carotene and D. All of which are essential for proper health. Low amounts of these ingredients can potentially lead to:

Vitamin A: Blindness, increased risk for serious and potentially fatal infections, dry skin, and miscarriage.

Vitamin D: Brittle and misshapen bones, muscle aches and soreness, light-headed feelings, increased risk for bone fractures, advancement of certain cancers.

Vitamin E: Muscle weakness, damage to the retina which leads to blindness, improper nerve function, anemia, improper fat digestion, and damage to the immune system.

Vitamin K: Uncontrolled bleeding increased bruising, stomach pains, severe deformation of bones.

By limiting the intake of these important vitamins it can lead to dangerous side effects. Also, supplementing with additional vitamins or whole foods can be costly and hard to maintain. It’s unknown what kind of an effect Alli might have from person to person.

Business of Alli

GlaxoSmithKline is a British company that makes pharmaceuticals. Their US offices can be found below:

Phone Number: (800) 671-2554

Email: Consumer.Communications@gsk.com

They’ve been subject to many controversies:

  • The company plead guilty and paid off one of the largest criminal fines of $3 billion. This was due to making false health benefits about 2 of their anti-depressant drugs. Also, they didn’t report safety data about one drug. Another issue was them paying physicians to recommend their brands, and they also reported inaccurate price listings to Medicaid.
  • They were sued in a class action lawsuit for claiming their drug was not habit forming, even though several customers claimed to have been addicted.
  • The Italian government cited the company for bribing physicians, pharmacists, and others into promoting their brands.
  • The US Justice Department is currently investigating the company for bribing in parts of Europe, China, and the Middle East.

Customer Opinions of Alli

Several reviews are available from online customers. Here’s a summary of the most common opinions:

“did not see any results”

“the stomach discomfort was not even close to worth it”

“Ineffective! Didn’t work at all”

“no effect at all”

There are over 600 negative reviews available online. People often fall under 2 categories, those who felt no change in weight loss whatsoever, and those that experienced difficult symptoms and prevented them from supplementing any further.

Those that claim weight loss also mention they started an extreme lifestyle change with lots of dieting and exercise.  So it’s unknown if Allis is only beneficial in small amounts, if at all.

Conclusion

Key points that should be considered about Alli include:

  • Studies show only a half-pound loss of weight in a month’s time: One yearlong study into the effects of the active ingredient revealed that it only lead to a maximum of 6 pounds of weight loss a year. This translates to roughly a half pound a month. Losing only a half-pound is a lot to ask for when you consider a bottle of Alli is often priced at $69.99 for a 40 day supply. For this price it would be easier to find other methods. Also, one has to consider the fact that diet and exercise are required. Doing this alone can safely reduce much more than a half pound in one month. It’s unknown if the diet and exercise required were the main reasons for weight loss in these studies. Another factor to consider is that taking Orlistat for one year can lead to an increased risk of colon cancer.
  • Side effects can include liver injury: The possible side effects can be great and the most common are digestive issues. Clinical studies have shown that it produces gas, oily and loose stools, and frequent bathroom trips. Other serious issues which have been reported include liver injury. People taking the key active ingredient have died from liver failure. One person taking Alli also suffered from liver injuries. The FDA now mentions that this is a real concern, and bottles of Alli have to come with a warning of potentially causing liver damage. If one were to experience any symptoms such as yellowing skin, eyes and nails, it’s advised to seek medical attention, as these are early signs of liver failure.
  • Many customers have complained about a lack of effects and side effects: There’s currently over 600 different negative reviews that mention Alli did nothing to help people lose weight. There are many reports from customers who add that they had embarrassing bathroom issues. Some mention that they took this over the counter alongside diet and exercise, and yet they still failed to see any changes. These same customers also add that especially in the beginning there’s an increased risk for oily and frequent bowel movements. The majority of negative reviews either highlighted that there’s no effect at all, or that the side effects make it hard to continue use. Clinical studies also confirm that these side effects are common especially when starting.
  • It’s expensive for what you’re getting: Alli is a half serving size of Orlistat instead of the full 120 mg that is offered in the prescription version. This is the only active ingredient and the other 10 additives are only added to make the pill look better, or to provide texture and make it easier to absorb. However, some of these ingredients include food colorings which some say is linked to an increase of cancer. Also, there are surfactants which hare often added to stain removers and household cleaners. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate has been shown to cause skin and eye irritations. Another questionable additive has been shown to cause allergic reactions in some. The majority of ingredients aren’t used for weight loss, and they’re known to cause side effects in some.
  • Many factors have to be considered before taking: Though it’s available over the counter, there are many different criteria one has to fall under before using it. You have to have no history of liver transplants, have a BMI of 25 or more, implement a reduced calorie and exercise plan, take no more than 15 grams of fat per meal, be fee of many medical issues, and not be taking several kinds of supplements or vitamins. Still, even in people who meet these criteria’s, it’s advised to watch out for any side effects. Even with all this considered the weight loss is modest, with a one year study showing between 4 to 6 pounds of weight loss.

The main issues with this brand are due to the lack of customer support, and the many claims that it causes embarrassing stomach issues.

There’s also a FDA warning that it may cause liver injuries, and in fact one user of Alli did suffer from liver damage. The brand may produce modest weight loss benefits in some, but it’s not as effective as the other alternatives available.

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