THE SKINNY: The particular excitement involving Xenical, approved in 1999, hinges on the drug?s ability to disable pancreatic enzymes that help the intestines absorb the fat in foods. About 30 percent of the fat in your diet (and the calories in that fat) passes through your digestive tract without being digested or absorbed. In clinical trials, people taking Xenical lost 9 percent of their body weight in one year, on average, compared with 5.8 percent among those who took a placebo. The drug has also been found to improve blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood sugar control?so it may help prevent heart disease and diabetes if you?re at risk.
Taking Xenical may also help you maintain your weight loss. That?s no small feat, either, when you consider how tough it is to keep pounds off. Case in point: In long- term studies, people on Xenical regained about 35 percent of their weight during their second year on the medication, while those taking a placebo regained a lot more?about 62 percent.