The wonder diet pill for 2009

The £1-a-day diet drug that promises to help drop a dress size

A £1-a-day drug that promises to help shed the pounds after the excesses of Christmas could be available to buy over the counter within months.

The new wonder drug, Alli, works by stopping the body from absorbing fat in food and trials have proved that dieters lost an average of 10lb across a six-month period.

Given the thumbs up by Europe’s medicine watchdog, Alli looks set to go on sale this summer and is a watered-down version of the prescription-only diet drug Xenical.

Trials of the new drug saw volunteers take a tablet with every meal and the results showed that on average they lost 50% more than volunteers who shunned the diet drug and relied on self-discipline alone.

The average slimmer shed 10lbs – the equivalent of a whole dress size. However, there is a downside: side-effects. The undigested fat that the body refuses to absorb passes through the body, meaning dieters are likely to suffer wind and diarrhoea.

Alli can also hamper the absorption of some vitamins, so dieters are recommended to take a vitamin supplement while slimming.

Dr Vidhu Bansal-Dev, of Glaxo’s U.S. healthcare division, who make the drug said: ‘It is the most extensively studied weight loss drug in the world and proven to help people lose weight and feel better about themselves.’

However, Gareth Williams, professor of medicine at Bristol University, doubts whether the successful weight loss results in trials on volunteers keen to beat the bulge will be repeated when the general public get their hands on the drug.

Writing in the British Medical Journal, Williams said: ‘Taking it without medical supervision may achieve an average daily energy deficit of only 100kcal – equivalent of leaving a few French fries on a plate or eating an apple instead of ice cream.’

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