What is Orlistat?
Orlistat is a weight loss medicine that prevents the action of enzymes found in the digestive juices which break down fats in our diet. As a result, about 30% of the fat that is eaten in the meals is not broken down and absorbed by the body. This means the body cannot use the fat as a source of energy or convert it into fat tissue. Instead, the fat is excreted in the faeces. Orlistat helps weight loss provided it is used in combination with a low-calorie diet and an exercise programme. Research has shown that Orlistat helps adults lose 50% more weight than by dieting alone.
What is Orlistat used for?
Orlistat is used to aid weight loss in people who are overweight or clinically obese. Orlistat comes in two strengths. The 60-mg capsules are available without a prescription. The 120-mg capsules require a prescription and are prescribed to aid weight loss in obese people with a body mass index (BMI) of 28 kg/m² or more.
How to use Orlistat
Orlistat capsules should be swallowed whole with a glass of water without chewing. One capsule should be taken immediately before, during, or up to one hour after each main meal. This weight loss medicine will have no effect if no fat has been consumed. If a meal is missed, or contains no fat or hardly any fat, you should leave out the dose. It is important to avoid high-fat meals while you are taking this medicine, even though some of the fat that is eaten is not broken down. If you take Orlistat with a meal that is very high in fat you are more likely to experience digestive side effect such as stomach ache and diarrhoea.
Unless otherwise prescribed by a doctor, the usual dose in adults aged 18 years and above is:
- one capsule three times a day, taken before, during or up to one hour after meals with plenty of liquid.
Read the package leaflet before use. This weight loss medicine should not be used in children without consulting a doctor first.
This medicine may cause side effects, including:
- Digestive problems (stomach ache, flatulence, fatty stools or diarrhoea);
- Low blood sugar levels;
- Flu or cold.
In most cases these side effects will go away by themselves. You can avoid digestive problems by eating less fat. Please note that this medicine can cause diarrhoea, which if severe, can reduce the effectiveness of oral contraceptive pills. If you are taking the pill for contraception you may need to use an additional method of contraception to prevent pregnancy if you experience severe diarrhoea while taking this medicine. For more information on possible side effects, see the package leaflet.
When not to use Orlistat
Orlistat is not suitable for everyone. Do not use this weight loss medicine if:
- You are allergic to orlistat or any other ingredient in this medicine;
- You have a liver disease or suffer from chronic malabsorption syndrome.
Orlistat interacts with other medicines, including the immunosuppressant cyclosporine and certain medicines for thyroid disorders. It is therefore important to tell the doctor what other medicines you are taking when you order. See the package leaflet for a complete list of contraindications, interactions and warnings.
Orlistat should only be used with your doctor’s approval if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Orlistat does not affect your reaction time or impair your ability to drive safely.
There are no dietary restrictions with this medicine. Orlistat does not interact with alcohol. However, it is important to remember that alcohol contains calories and should therefore be avoided when trying to lose weight.