Xenical is a prescription medication which has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for weight loss. It is the brand name for the drug Orlistat and is prescribed by doctors to treat obesity in their patients through blocking the absorption of fat. Doctors are most likely to prescribe this medication to patients who not only are obese, but also have, or are at risk for, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, and other conditions that are either caused by obesity or are made worse by it.
While other weight loss medications work to suppress the patient's appetite, Xenical works in the digestive system. This removes the risk to patients' mental health that other drugs pose. Xenical blocks 30% of dietary fat that patients consume when eating. This is accomplished by preventing the enzyme that breaks down dietary fat from working to do so. As a result, the dietary fat cannot be absorbed into the patient's body, and the dietary fat passes through the body, without causing the patient to gain weight from it.
Patients who take Xenical continue to eat full meals, and as a result feel full and satisfied. Their bodies continue to burn calories based on the full meal that they have eaten. Since the Xenical effectively has blocked 30% of the dietary fat that the patient consumed with that full meal, however, the patient's body will burn calories that are stored in the his or her body fat. This means that the patient will lose the extra weight that pads his or her thighs, hips, belly, and the rest of his or her body. Many patients successfully lose 5% to 10% of their starting body weight after taking Xenical per their doctors' instructions for six months.
Patients also experience weight loss because of modifications to their daily diet. While Xenical will block 30% of whatever dietary fat is consumed, if patients persist in consuming food that contains excessive amounts of dietary fat they may experience gastrointestinal distress. This discomfort effectively discourages patients from abusing the medication, and encourages them to slowly modify their diets to include less fattening foods.
While Xenical was only available as a name brand prescription medication following its initial approval by the FDA, it since has become available as a generic prescription medication, under its scientific name of Orlistat. A smaller dose of Xenical can be purchased over the counter, under the name Alli.
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