Monday, April 7, 2008

Fat trapping in perspective Part 2

Finally confronted with this reality, many dieters start despairing. And just when they are ready to give up and sink further into their obesity, another product comes onto the market with new, intriguing and exciting claims: fat trappers or -binders.

Here with some facts about these products.

'Fat binders' or 'fat trappers' usually contain chitosan, derived from the shells of crustaceans such as prawns, shrimps and lobsters. Taken before a meal, a certain part of the fat consumed during the meal binds with the chitosan, travels through the intestine as freeloading passenger and passes out of the body, bound to the waste products. Some have a time-release action and some claim to 'trap' up to 15 times their own weight in fat. These products are available without prescription from chemists, health stores and mail order companies.

Diet Start

On the surface there is nothing 'wrong' with these products and in fact, Kitobind, available over the counter, is a product I respect. As I do Xenical, which contains orlistat. The latter is a schedule 3 product for which a prescription from your doctor is required. Many myths surround diet products, and Xenical and Kitobind are no exception. Xenical in particular is likened to a 'fat binder', but this is about as far from the truth as can be. As to the safely of these products, I can only vouch for the two that I know. I am not familiar with any of the other products and can therefore only caution you to buy a familiar and well-tested product. What I can mention though, is that I have been involved in clinical trials of some of these fat trapper diet products that proved to be totally ineffective. Volunteers who took the tablets had less fat in their stools after a fatty meal than those who had taken placebos or 'blank' pills!

It just goes to show how we can be fooled.

It is wise to remember that over-the-counter diet products are not required to conform to any stringent health laws and lately many rumours have been doing the rounds that certain fat trappers can cause severe and permanent intestinal problems. So, safe is the word if you do not want to be sorry when you buy this, or any other kind of supplement or medication.

Of these, the prescription product Xenical warrants discussion, since it does not work as a fat trapper. The active ingredient in Xenical, namely orlistat, inhibits the activity of the lipase enzymes in the stomach. Their function is to split the ingested fat in the stomach into smaller molecules in order to be fully absorbed by the body. Orlistat therefore prevents this from happening, leaving some of the molecules large, which means they cannot be absorbed into the body. The balance of the fat - the larger molecules - passes through the stomach and intestines without being digested and therefore without being stored as a source of energy. This logical, simple process will help you reduce your weight, maintain the lower weight and minimize the possibility of regaining it again. As always, there is a proviso attached here, but more about that later,

At the school we have seen amazingly positive results in the students who use Xenical. They lose weight at a faster rate and maintain what they have lost more readily than those who do not use the product. This does not mean that no chitosan-based product can produce good results, but I suspect that, because Xenical is marketed as part of a holistic weight management package, it instils a greater sense of dedication and determination in patients who are on the program. That, plus the fact that it is more expensive and not subsidised by medical aid schemes.

... andjoyohoxing