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Orlistat has been proven to help patients lose weight in clinical trials. Orlistat is the generic, non-branded form of Xenical, and is therefore better value for money. Both medicines have exactly the same effectiveness.

Orlistat has been proven to help patients lose weight in clinical trials. Orlistat is the generic, non-branded form of Xenical, and is therefore better value for money. Both medicines have exactly the same effectiveness.

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What Is Orlistat?

Orlistat can be used to help with weight loss. Rather than being an appetite suppressant it stops your body from absorbing the fat from food. This process helps the body to lose weight. Orlistat is not a single solution and should be used with a sensible calorie controlled diet.

Orlistat blocks approximately 1/3 of the fat from your food by attaching to enzymes in the digestive system and stopping them from breaking down the fat content of your food. The undigested fat is simply passed through your system.

How to Take Orlistat

The recommended dose of Orlistat is a 120-mg capsule taken with water with each meal that contains fat. You should take Orlistat up to three times a day in conjunction with a reduced-calorie diet. Each time you take Orlistat , your nutritionally balanced meal should contain no more than about 30% of calories from fat.

You should evenly divide your daily intake of fat, carbohydrates and protein over three main meals. Take Orlistat during meals or up to 1 hour after a meal. If you occasionally miss a meal or have a meal without fat, you can omit your dose of Orlistat . Doses above 120 mg three times daily have not been shown to provide an additional weight-loss benefit.

You should try to follow a healthy eating plan, such as one from which no more than 30% of calories come from fat. Following this eating plan will help you lose weight while decreasing some of the possible gastrointestinal effects you may experience while taking Orlistat . You may also need to adjust your calorie intake and/or your activity level, including reasonable exercise.

If your meal contains too much fat, you may experience diarrhoea. In the case of bloody stools, discontinue use and seek medical advice.

Vitamin Supplements

Because Orlistat interferes with your body’s absorption of some fat-soluble vitamins, you should take a daily multivitamin supplement that contains vitamins A, D, E and K and beta carotene once a day at least 2 hours before or after taking Orlistat , such as at bedtime

Patient Information Leaflet

Always read the patient information leaflet before commencing treatment. Patient information can be found here.


In clinical studies, people treated with Orlistat and a reduced-calorie diet with no more than 30% of calories from fat achieved significantly greater weight loss than people who were treated with diet alone.

Weight loss with Orlistat and a healthy diet can also improve other health risks. Studies have shown the following benefits:

  • Decreased total and LDL cholesterol
  • Improved ratio of good to bad cholesterol
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Reduced levels of insulin (high levels are associated with coronary heart disease)
  • Reduced risk or delayed progression to type 2 diabetes in patients

  • It is expected that you will lose a minimum of 5% of your body weight after 12 weeks of starting treatment. If you haven't lost at least this amount, the treatment may not be suitable for you.

    Side effects

    Orlistat, as with all medications carries the risk of side effects. These are usually mild and not experienced by all people. Common side effects include:

  • Headache
  • Stomach cramps
  • Flatulence
  • Increased need to open bowels
  • Oily or fatty or liquid stools
  • Low blood sugar levels
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    Giselle Goodwin

    Clinical Lead
    Laura Jones MPharmS
    GPhC Number 207 7331


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