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Is Alli the magic bullet?

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July 12, 2007

It's a fight that many of us can't seem to win-- battling the bulge.

But what if we told you a new diet pill to just hit stores shelves actually delivered on its promise to make the pounds come off? Alli promises to do just that, and you don't had to have a prescription to buy it.

Unlike the hundreds of diet pills on the market it's the very first over the counter diet pill approved by the FDA. But it doesn't come without controversy and side effects.

It's the hottest diet pill to hit store shelves. It's called Alli, and it's the most talked about drug on the market.

"There are a lot of people that scream to be thin," says dieter Jennifer Carter.

Like most Americans, Jennifer struggles with her weight-- especially after just having a baby. "It's amazing because I actually weigh more now than when I was pregnant. It's so funny. If I lose ten pounds, I'll be content with that."

Carter could lose that weight twice as fast by taking the new diet pill, Alli. The pill claims to drop the weight up to fifty percent faster than diet alone.  "I'm not going to lie, if it got to the point where I thought I was morbidly obese, I probably would try it."

But how far would you go to drop those pesky pounds? The pill doesn't come without side effects.

 "This does not curb your appetite. This does not give you a sensation of feeling full," says Dr. Jacqueline Grant. "What this pill does is forces you to eat a certain way. You either eat that way or you have these horrible side effects," says Dr. Grant.

And Dr.  Grant with the Southwest Georgia Health District says those side effects can come in a variety of forms. "Cramping, and bloating, gas, with a potentially an oily discharge," says Grant.

The pill is taken three times daily and works by blocking the absorption of fat in the intestinal track by about twenty-five percent.

David Hays of Hays Pharmacy in Albany just started selling the new diet pill. It's the only over-the-counter diet pill he carries. "So anybody that is eating fat in their diet that takes this will see the fat in the toilet bowel when they go to the bathroom," says Hays. "It does help to lose a good bit of weight for people who are obese."

But the new pill is pricey. "Our price is around sixty dollars. It'll vary anywhere from the upper fifties to up to the seventies," says Hays.

Fitness experts say for that price, you're better off losing the weight the hard way.

 "People are just looking for the so-called magic pill. It's just a money thing, and if they worked there wouldn't be so many of them." Perry Buchanan with PT Gym in Albany says there is no quick and easy fix for long term weight loss.

"I think they're going to realize you're still going to have to exercise, you're going to have to watch your nutrition because there's no short cuts really."

That's why, for now, Carter is losing her weight the old-fashioned way. "I try to do some sit ups in the morning, a little pushups," says Carter.

But supports those who are looking to take the easy way out by taking the new pill. "If you're willing to accept the side effects so you can be smaller, be skinny I'm for that if you are," says Carter. "Just believe you can do it."

And dieters who are buying this hottest diet pill believe, unlike the others out there, will work for them-- no matter the cost or consequence.

The amount of weight a person loses by taking Alli will vary. But in a six month clinical trial, obese people who took the pill lost on average 5.3 to 6.2 pounds more than those given a placebo.

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