Here Comes Alli

The New York Times on the latest diet drug. Or the latest name for a diet drug, I guess, since it’s just repackaged Xenical.

Did you know it’s pronounced “ally”? How gross is that?

Here’s my favorite line about the marketing:

The campaign is aimed at “a jaded consumer,” Ms. Murphy said, who “will say to you, ‘I’ve heard it all, I’ve done it all: Weight Watchers, TrimSpa, the cabbage-soup diet.’ And even though they don’t believe the claims, they will try it anyway.

Emphasis mine, but still. THEY SAID IT OUT LOUD!

Also, I’m not sure how someone who’s heard it all and done it all and still keeps trying products whose claims she doesn’t even believe qualifies as “jaded,” but whatev.

Alli works by preventing the body from absorbing some of the fat it takes in. BUT, they tell us, it only works if you also restrict your calories–i.e., if you actively diet while taking the magic diet pill. Let’s count the things that are incredibly fucked up about that, shall we?

  1. When the people who use it inevitably gain the weight back, it will be, as always, their fault, and not the fault of a product that would totally work if you fatties had any willpower!
  2. What the hell does it do to the body to restrict calories and artificially prevent fat absorption simultaneously? I’m no doctor, but I’ve got this sneaking suspicion that’s gonna make a body think it’s being starved right quick. And that’s going to, what? Say it with me: cause the metabolism to slow and the body to cling even more tenaciously to fat cells once the diet is over.
  3. If it only works alongside dieting and exercise–which are already proven to cause short-term weight loss on their own–what the fuck is the point of paying for a pill? Just so you can get violent runs if you decide to eat one cheeseburger? SIGN ME UP.

What am I missing? Feel free to add to that list in comments.

And GlaxoSmithKline, feel free to suck it.

33 thoughts on “Here Comes Alli”

  1. Let’s hear it for greasy anal leakage and the idea that ONLY thin is acceptable. Glaxo Smith-klien… you can BLOW ME!

  2. Well speaking as someone who lost 115-lbs
    I can say that starving yourself is not the answer, but saying that a diet does not work once you get off the diet is silly. The word diet means “way of eating” hence every one on the planet is on a diet because they way they eat is THEIR diet.
    Now what you are refering to is a change of diet, now it stands to reason that if you CHANGE your diet to lose weight going back to the diet that got you big in the first place will do it again.
    I lost my weight 3 years ago and have not gained it back and the reason is because I NEVER went back to my old diet.
    PS: I dont starve myself infact I eat around 6 times a day.

  3. I changed my diet too. Cut out high-fructose corn syrup almost completely. Restricted soda to one small serving a week. Bumped up the exercise to almost a full hour every day, much of it uphill walking. Cut way down on breads and starches and saturated fats and just about everything and my portion sizes are much smaller too. I have lost NO WEIGHT as a result of all this. Not an ounce.

    I am over 40, have been on multiple diets and antidepressants and hormones, and have PCOS. Nothing is going to do it for me except a firearm-enforced lifetime of ketosis. I don’t think I’m a freak exception. Almost all significant weight loss is temporary, and the few exceptions that exist should not be used as bludgeons with which to clobber the rest of us. If you got rich buying two Powerball tickets, bully for you. Obviously results are not typical there.

    And I’m not buying their stupid oil-shitting pill, thanks. Things like that are for young people who think they have all the time in the world, which I know I don’t.

  4. Not really but its simple science, if you consume fewer or the same calories than you burn the result is weight loss, there are other ways to trick the body.
    I consume fewer grams of carbs than grams of protein, I eat steak, bacon, cheese, chicken pork, etc etc….
    I get full kinda fast and meal number six is the hardest to eat I’m so full, I love bbq, seafood, fried chicken etc etc…. all those things they tell you not to eat, point being my body in no way thinks its starving.
    I lift weights (because muscle burns fat) my only weakness is arobic exersize but 115 pounds says it was not that important for me anyway.

    you see by cutting out the carbs while actually eating a good amount of protein it caused 3 reactions
    1. eating kept my metabilism from droping.
    2. the extra protein kept my muscles from wasting.
    3. without carbs for my body to use for energy my body was forced to dip unto its reserves(fat)
    And since we know our bodies are less affeciant at turning fat into energy it has to burn fat at a higher rate than it would carbs.

  5. Agent2010, I’m glad it’s working for you, but we’re going to have to agree to disagree. I don’t think the science is at all simple, or that any eating plan will work for every body.

    Also, when I say the body thinks it’s starving, I’m talking about how the metabolism responds, not about whether you feel hungry. If it’s working for you, and continues to work long-term, then you’ve probably got a natural weight range that’s much lower than where you started out. Not everyone does.

  6. Yay! Laws-Of-Thermodynamics weight loss advice! Coz that’s TOTALLY what I read kateharding for! No way should we have anywhere on the net free from such quintessentially wise and useful Interventions. I’ve seen the light! Agent2010, I’d like to subscirbe to your newsletter, as I’m sure it will have many more such pearls of wisdom. You’ve changed my life!

  7. I’m not tryying to argue with you either, and being that i spend several years overweight and have tried many diets I understand why you feel the way you do.
    I may have lost the weight but I have not forgotten what it felt like to be overweight.
    And I also know that the EXACT same plan wont work for every body, I have noticed that there are 4 type of people out there.
    1. Those people that can eat what they want treat their body like a garbage can and still walk the earth with a body that looks like a greek statue.

    2. more common type who with a little working out on the weekend and watching what they eat(not dramatically changing their diet) can look like person #1 .

    3. if they work out 30 minutes a day change their diet they can look like #1 does.

    4. has to work out like a fiend, watch everything they put in their mouth and they still wont look like #1 but they will loose weight and be much healthier than if they didnt. for these people the best they might be able to do is be only slightly chubby which is ok.

  8. Meowzer and Lauredhel: :)

    Agent2010, thanks for staying respectful.

    I don’t even entirely disagree with you about the 4 types of people–right up to the end of number 4.

    “Working out like a fiend and watching everything you put in your mouth” are characteristics of eating disorders, not a healthy lifestyle. And there are a lot of people who are more than slightly chubby who ace their physicals every year.

    Some fat people have health problems. Others do not. Eating a balanced, varied diet and exercising moderately will have health benefits for everyone. Weight loss in and of itself will not. There’s some simple science for you.

    Most importantly, why should the goal be for everyone to look like #1?

  9. “Some fat people have health problems. Others do not.”

    And some fat people have health problems that have nothing to do with their fatness, and some fat people have health problems that have something to do with their fatness, and some thin people have health problems that have nothing or something or everything to do with their thinness.

    And in every single case, the metric of their humanity is not their size. Random people who make judgements about their size being “bad” or “better” are judgemental fools who should mind their own business. And there is no moral axis to the compass of size.

    agent2010 also seems to be working in a little Disney-world of able-bodied who have nothing else to do but to obsess minute to minute about whether they can pinch an inch.

  10. I also have known women who worked out HOURS a day and ate almost nothing and weren’t able to lose any significant weight relative to their starting point. All they lost was their sanity. But hey, at least they try try tried! Every good woman should try try try, and try try try some more, over and over and over again — it’s our civic duty to be maximally decorative at all costs!

    Is it really all that bizarrely radical to say, “You know, I want my free time to become a better person and a better lover and a better friend and a better musician and a better artist and a better citizen, I don’t want to spend all of it in the frigging gym, and I don’t want to have nightmares about pizza either”? It seems to me that the most radical thing a woman can do these days is to eat exactly what she wants, as much as she wants, and not apologize for a bite of it, and not run off to “work it off” either. Anyone can spread her rectum ten miles wide on a WebCam, that’s nothing anymore. But having a Pepsi with your dinner? Bad, bad girl! Why aren’t you being good and drinking red wine??

  11. And some fat people have health problems that have nothing to do with their fatness, and some fat people have health problems that have something to do with their fatness, and some thin people have health problems that have nothing or something or everything to do with their thinness.

    Right on. That’s the more detailed and accurate version of what I was saying.

    Also, although I’m a proponent of Health at Every Size as a generally good idea, I definitely don’t want to come across as judging anyone who’s both fat and unhealthy, regardless of whether it’s because of factors they can control. I get hung up on saying again and again that many fat people are perfectly healthy–because so many people refuse to believe that–but it’s absolutely not okay to hate unhealthy or only sorta healthy people because of their size, either.

    Quitting smoking is the absolute best thing I could do for my health, and I’m having a cig right now. I am still a good person. Health is not a moral issue.

    And size DEFINITELY isn’t.

  12. OK I did not attack anyone or make judgements or charactor, I dont live in disney land, I live in this world, I lost weight in this world I have helped others to loose weight in this world, and no I dont obsecess about pinching inches, but i do notice that loosing weight has done me some good, I notice when I walk up stairs, when I make love, when I buy clothes(ok I know thats not health related), my sleeping is better, my breathing, my snooreing stopped etc etc….

    Think of it this way your heart and lungs have to work that much harder to circulate blood and oxegen throughout your body the bigger your body the more space that poor heart has to cover.
    It’s like trying to drive a pickup truck with a motercycle engine.

  13. “I definitely don’t want to come across as judging anyone who’s both fat and unhealthy, regardless of whether it’s because of factors they can control.”

    kateharding, right on.

    Imagine if every middle- and upper-class person in America (Australia, Britain, etc) took all of their time and money and effort (and I mean men too, as much as women do) out of weight loss programs and diet pills and useless vitamins and protein powders and expensive workouts. And poured ALL of it into charity and aid programs fighting poverty, making nutritious food available to the poorest people, building safe streets and playgrounds and sports areas, and providing free clinics of various sorts. I mean, every last cent and every last labour-hour. I’d like to imagine that world. And measure the health and happiness outcomes.

  14. Good point Is it not great to live in the industrialized world where our biggest persieved problem is the fact that most of us have TOO much to eat.

  15. Agent2010, I appreciate the respectfulness with which you are communicating. But I have to ask: why do you feel the need to come in an preach weightloss like it is a goddamn plan for salvation? Seriously. The prosthelytizing is not going to win any converts. People who CAN lose weight by changing their eating habits may or not do so and that is their choice. There is no morality associated with that choice. Good for you and I am genuinely glad to hear that YOUR life has improved. But your experience does not equal every experience even in that regard. People place different value on different things.

    People who cannot lose weight by changing their eating habits are not going to be magically converted by hearing one success story. They are going to continue to blame their failure to lose weight on themselves because no one seems to believe them when they say that exercising more and eating less has not made one damn bit of difference.

    For the record, if I eat less and exercise more, I gain weight. And I keep gaining muscle instead of losing fat and I wind up weighing more than I did before I began the process.

  16. And I just want to add that my irritation at this is not just a reaction to your commentary because, as I said, I appreciate the respectful manner in which you have been engaging in this discussion. It’s just that there doesn’t seem to be a single discussion of weight loss that doesn’t involve someone coming in and saying, “OH! I did it and you can too!”

  17. TR, I agree–both about the ubiquity of that response and about agent2010’s refreshing manner of communicating it–but I have to say, part of me is tickled to see it here. It’s the first time I’ve had that conversation here, so that must mean my readership is broadening. ;)

  18. Well thanks for your noticing my different approach to this issue, I think it has to do with me being overweight for years, and knowing how I gained the weight in the first place(bad marrage, lived up north where it was too cold to do anything, an italian restrant on every corner, the cheapness of all you can eat buffets when you have a family to feed etc etc……)

    And unlike most of the “I did it and so can you” people I actually lost a whole person not just 10 or 15 vanity pounds.

    I lost 115lbs thats more than what some supermodels way.
    And I did a blog search and found this artical and just wanted to respond to your responce.
    I have no wish to cause trouble but that is what blogs are about is the open exchange of thoughts and ideas, and if my readership grows to the point where people are posting comments contrary to what the regular readers feel thats good.
    Like I said I understand, I did not acheive this weightloss on the first diet I tried and this is the first one that gave me long term results, and if you noticed I have not mentioned the name of the diet I am on because I did not join a fad diet club I made my own diet based on bits and pieces of many out there.

  19. Also, if the heart has to work so, so hard to pump blood to the engorged limbs of us fatties, doesn’t it also have to do so to cover the pneumatic and lengthy extremities of our “world class athletes” and gym rats? IOW, should Shaq O’Neal (believed to be 7’2″, 325 pounds) get his legs shortened or something and quit working out so much so his heart doesn’t quit on him?

    (Incidentally, nobody’s ever come up with any hard evidence of increased atherosclerosis, or artery hardening, amongst fat people compared to their thinner counterparts. And don’t think for a minute they haven’t tried to.)

  20. OOHHHHH at 6ft5 you have me worried, I’m glad I lost the weight then, muscles gorge themselves on blood anyway, heart dont not have to work as hard to get blood to an area that already have a good supply ready, sort of like your airconditioner does not have to work as hard to mantain the temp of your house as it does to get the temp down in the first place.

  21. If what you were saying was true, then all fat people would have higher blood pressure than all thin people. It just doesn’t work that way. My blood pressure has always been on the low side, and I know plenty of thinner people with hypertension. In fact, there are studies suggesting that hypertension is actually more strongly associated with large amounts of lean tissue rather than with large amounts of fatty tissue. Linkage

  22. And also, if you are 6’5″, I take it you are male. Men usually do find weight loss quite a bit easier than women (although of course there are many exceptions).

  23. Though you are correct I am male, being 6ft5 has nothing to do with it, my daughter is 6ft and still growing and i dated a woman ounce who was 6ft4(taller than me in heels).
    and actually more overweight people DO have high blood pressure though you are correct not all, just like many people who are thin have bad hearts and high blood pressure, and not all high blood pressure is caused by being overweight, the majority of it is caused by stress.

    same with alot of heart desease .
    Bottom line is being overweight while not being the sole cause of such issues it DOES complicate said issues.

  24. knowing how I gained the weight in the first place(bad marrage, lived up north where it was too cold to do anything, an italian restrant on every corner, the cheapness of all you can eat buffets when you have a family to feed etc etc……)

    agent2010, I think you hit on something important here–the knowing how you ended up the size you did, which are a mix of personal and cultural reasons from the sound of it. I lost some weight a few years back, and it too was the result of having an idea of why my size changed in the first place (depression led to inactivity and stress led to eating a lot of comfort foods). Because I could identify why my body changed, when I made relatively small lifestyle adjustments, my body changed again.

    But that experience is pretty unusual, I think, for chubby and fat people. A lot of people have no idea why they are fat, or maybe they’ve always been that way, or maybe they do know but it’s a medical condition like PCOS that makes weight loss an extremely arduous task. I think that the conversation here indicates that people have different experiences with fat, and the idea that everyone *should* try to be thin because some people *can* ignores those different experiences. When you made your own “diet,” you were responding to your body’s needs in a coherent and (from the sound of it) responsible way. For a lot of people, the coherent and responsible choice for their bodies is to NOT attempt to lose weight, and that’s okay too.

    Kate–this is an excellent blog! This is meestagoat from fatshionista. :-)

  25. Ah, the law of thermodynamics. Inappropriately applied to fat people, it’s a blanket proof of every negative thing thin people think about fat people. We must by lazy gluttons. Science says so!

    Except this is science by assertion which assumes the complex mechanism of metabolism is actually just the most basic equation and nothing else is actually happening that might effect things.

    It just doesn’t work that way. But thin people or currently former fat people cannot accept that. Especially the latter group as this reveals their proud success as being more or less a fluke. They don’t want to see themselves that way. They want to think that they accomplished something which makes them better than the person they were or the person fat people still are. But it just doesn’t work that way. I’ve done the math on myself. My the statistics, I shouldn’t be the size I am. I shouldn’t be maintaining the size I am. But I am. I see that and conclude that the formulas just don’t apply. Others see it and feel it justifies calling me a liar. If you don’t like the data afterall, why not just blame the data.

    Back on topic, it is amazing that they came out and acknowledged the business model for the diet industry, but these admissions come a lot from the diet industry and they never get noticed. Punative weight loss aids are the latest fad. Whether it be surgically induced anorexia or pharmacutically induced bulumia, the notion is that fat people should be punished for being fat. Nothing else has worked, after all.

  26. Laura: Hey! Thanks!

    BStu: Yepyepyep. And as The Rotund said in another comments thread, until the people reporting on the research get over their fat hatred, the truth is never going to set us free.

  27. Let’s all check in with agent2010 in 2010 — especially since most of the research says folks gain it all back within 5 years, not 3.

    Whaddaya say?

  28. “… until the people reporting on the research get over their fat hatred …”

    Truth? In American culture, where so many people have a desperate need to feel superior to someone, particularly if they feel their own life sucks (and in this economy, that’s the rule rather than the exception)? I wouldn’t hold my breath unless you’re working on your VO2 max.

    Education works, but it takes a loooooooooooooooong time …

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