Saturday, May 26, 2007

There's a sucker born every minute

As P.T. Barnum is often (mistakenly) quoted as saying, There's a sucker born every minute.* And right now, those suckers are us.

At least, those of us who are rushing out to buy the newest FDA-approved diet pill, Alli.

Let's start with the fact that Alli doesn't actually work. Or rather, it doesn't work quite the way you think it might. Taken before meals, it prevents your body from absorbing the fat in food. But it has another mechanism that isn't being touted quite as enthusiastically. Think Antabuse for fat. If you eat fatty food while you're on this stuff, you are likely to have explosive and uncontrolled bowel movements that "smell like fish oil," according to one website I read. This site cautioned consumers to carry a package of baby wipes and an extra pair of pants while taking Alli. Presumably you need experience this only once before you're frightened out of eating fat. Or out of taking the pill.

Don't bother to take Vitamin E while you're on this stuff, either. Alli is likely to decrease your body's ability to absorb fat-soluble vitamins--E, A, D, and K, along with beta carotene.

As Sandy Szwarc points out in her May 25th blog on the subject, this little pill is getting a great big push from its U.S. distributors, GlaxoSmithKline, playing up the FDA's approval (what in the world were they thinking?) and betting that consumers will pony up two bucks a day for the privilege of taking this pseudomedication. And talk about disingenuous! If this article from the New York Times doesn't make you want to scream, your b.s. detector's not working.

How stupid do they think we are? As stupid as we are, apparently. Thin at any price--even wearing adult diapers or buying a whole new wardrobe of all-black pants? I don't think so.

*(If you can tell me who actually said that quote--no fair using Google to find out--I'll send you a free Mr. Wrong T-shirt.)


Zan said...

Worse thing about this pill? It has been proven to help you lose a grand total of (I believe) THREE pounds more than any other nutrient rich/moderate exercise plan. So, for the price of crapping yourself silly, you can lose three pounds -- which is a completely normal weight variation anyway. Gah.

Harriet said...

Too right!

Think of the level of fat phobia they've got to create and fan in order to market a loser like this pill. Unbelievable.