6733 Clayton Road

Jul 18, 2007 at 4:00 am
So, we're a nation of fatties. Not only that, we're a nation of fatties getting fatter. Take our fair state of Missouri: The Centers for Disease Control report that in the 1990s, a mere 10 to 14 percent of Missourians were obese. By 2005, though, the Show-Me State had shown itself the buffet, sidling up with a 25 to 29 percent obesity rate.

Is there any doubt, then, that there'd be a mad rush on alli, the first diet drug to win approval from the Food and Drug Administration?

Not really, and since its release last month, anecdotal evidence indicates we're popping alli with the same fervor that Joey Chestnut mainlines Nathan's Famous hot dogs.

Witness Behind the Counter, a blog penned by an anonymous Wal-Mart employee who reports that dieters are shoplifting alli from his Florida store.

"Really, considering the average Wal-Mart customer — you'd think they wouldn't be worried about losing weight — they'd be more worried about finding a wheelchair cart," a surprised Behind the Counter writes. "Every day we find about [four] of them ripped open and the pills stolen. If they really are stealing them to lose weight, methinks these people aren't reading the part about 'leakage.'"

What was that? Leakage?

Ah, yes. alli helps people lose weight by attaching itself to enzymes in the stomach, rendering them incapable of breaking down fat. Undigested and indigestible, the fat cannot be converted into energy, or — and here lies the drug's genius — stored as fat. With all other egresses blocked, the undigested fat hangs around in the gut awhile, before it's prodded down the intestine, where it becomes...


"The excess fat is not harmful," alli's marketers state, settling on "treatment effect" as a euphemism for this messy effluent. "In fact, you may recognize it in the toilet as something that looks like the oil on top of a pizza."

The diet drug's maker, GlaxoSmithKline, warns dieters against other side effects that include: "gas with oily spotting," "loose stools" and "more frequent stools that may be hard to control."

But really, aren't these small prices to pay for a 28-inch waist?

At any rate, GlaxoSmithKline has offered some helpful tips to help with the dreaded "alli-oops." Among them:

1) "You may not usually get gassy, but it's a possibility when you take alli. The bathroom is really the best place to go when that happens."

2) "While no one likes experiencing treatment effects, they might help you think twice about eating questionable fat content."

3) "[I]t's probably a smart idea to wear dark pants, and bring a change of clothes with you to work."

What do these tips tell us? Well, that in order to metamorphose into the slender butterfly of your dreams, you must 1) risk an unctuous diarrheal plague, 2) isolate yourself in the loo or 3) change your diet.

On second thought, oily spots be damned. Go ahead and shit those fat pants! After all, dark clothes have a slimming effect.

So it is that clad in my darkest denim, I tentatively place a single blue alli capsule on my tongue. It has a slight chalkiness, but certainly none of the bitterness I generally associate with pills. As it begins to melt at the ends, I'm having a hard time placing its flavor. The pill is not sweet.

It doesn't taste bad, but it sure doesn't taste like pizza.