Throughout our lives, all of us can likely name a point in which we can relate to being a little overweight. While most weight loss can be controlled by exercise and our diets, weight gain at a high level can lead to obesity, which isn’t always as easy to control. When a level of obesity is reached, exercise and diet changes can be accompanied by a medication such as Orlistat to help you keep control of and aid your weight loss, and we’ve collected together everything you need to know about the medication and your options for taking it.

What is obesity, and what are the causes?

Obesity, by definition, is the carrying of excess fat to an extent at which it is considered unhealthy. Clinical Obesity is often diagnosed by looking at your BMI (Body Mass Index), which takes into account your weight compared to your height. The average BMI for a person is between 18.5-24.9, and within this range you are mostly considered to be of a healthy weight for your height. Between 25-29.9 are just considered to be overweight, but when your BMI reaches over 30, you will be considered clinically obese. However, it’s important to remember that bodybuilders might have a BMI of over 30, but be healthy, and so while BMI is the usual way of diagnosing a person, this cannot always be the case.

The causes of obesity are fairly common, and can come down to overeating, having an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, having a slow metabolism, but can also be down to the less common causes of psychological disorders, thyroid disorders, diabetes, certain medications, and sometimes genetics is simply at fault.

What is Orlistat?

Orlistat is a medication available to those who suffer from obesity, and is available at a strength of 120 mg. To help combat obesity, Orlistat reduces the amount of fat that can be absorbed from the gut and into your body tissue by blocking the action of an enzyme called lipases. Lipases are responsible for breaking down fats for absorption into cells, and blocking their action can prevent fat breakdown and ultimately stop you from putting on weight. Any unabsorbed fat – which usually sits at about 30% of the fat from the gut – passes through and is expelled through faeces.

When you should start taking Orlistat

If you find that you’ve been diagnosed as obese and are struggling to drop your weight, it could be worth asking for a prescription of Orlistat. With a recommended dose of one 120mg capsule three times a day, orlistat should be taken with water before, during or up to one hour after a main meal. However, it’s important to remember that you shouldn’t take Orlistat if you miss a meal, or if your meal has a low, or no fat content. If you miss a dose, do not take extra doses to make up for the one you missed, just continue on with taking the medication with your next meal as normal.

Orlistat should only be taken as part of an overall weight loss programme. The medication alone can’t make you lose weight to a healthy degree, and so exercise and eating a healthy, balanced diet will ultimately have a faster, and better effect on your body. Orlistat is only meant to aid you in your weight loss for a period of 12 weeks, or longer if you reach a weight loss target of 5%. Keep track of your weight, and make sure to keep in contact with you GP regularly.

Authored Jan 11, 2018 by Joseph Issac, MPharm
Reviewed Dec 20, 2018 by Prabjeet Saundh, MPharm

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