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Experts Warn Against Side Effects of the New Weight Loss Drug

sers have acclimated to the drug. The side effects alone can force users to eat less.

"We're skeptical about something like this going over the counter," said Dr. Rohini Ashok, heading a new, doctor-supervised weight loss program. "It's not an unsafe drug, but it's not benign. The side effects are pretty gross."

As the American population grows ever fatter about 65 percent of adults are either overweight or obese pharmaceutical firms have tried to create a diet pill that is safe and effective, with only minimal success. A previous drug combination popularly known as fen-phen was pulled from the market in 1997 after reports of heart valve damage.

Earlier this week, an advisory committee to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommended against approval of the diet drug Acomplia, which has been approved in Europe but increases the risk of suicidal thoughts.

At a Weight Watchers meeting in San Jose on Thursday, Stephanie Vose, 23, said that she and her friends had tried numerous diet fads over the years, only to experience strange side effects such as shaking or bursts of energy.

"It's not like it taught you how to eat right," Vose said. "So it all comes right back."

Was Alli worth a try, given its unpleasant side effects? No way, Vose said. "That's disgusting," she said. "I would not take that." Doctors and nutritionists wish more of their patients shared Vose's attitude and willingness to try dieting the hard way: The Weight Watchers program emphasizes portion control, exercise and slow, long-term weight loss.

"I'm sure (Alli) is not the solution to the obesity epidemic," said Christopher Gardner, a Stanford University Medical School nutrition researcher.

He painted a glum picture of how a stint with Alli might go: The dieter starts out taking the drug, but doesn't change her diet. Gradually, she begins to lose weight, because her body isn't absorbing all of the fat she
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