Who can take Orlistat?

2nd October 2019

Orlistat is a medication used by those who are overweight or obese, to help them lose weight. The drug works by blocking the absorption of fat into the body, meaning that it is instead flushed straight through you and comes out in your stool. Given that it blocks almost a third of the fat that you eat, it’s not surprising that when paired with a reduced-fat diet, it acts as an extremely effective weight loss method.

Who can take Orlistat?

Orlistat is a prescription-only medicine that is only appropriate for those who are overweight or obese and should not be taken by anyone who is underweight or healthy.

When a doctor is prescribing Orlistat, they will normally use your BMI as an indicator as to whether or not it’s suitable. Your BMI (Body Mass Index) is a number that is calculated based on your height to weight ratio, and anyone with a BMI of 25 or more is considered to be overweight.

In order to be prescribed Orlistat, you must either have a BMI of 30 or above, or a BMI of 28 or above and a medical condition that could be improved by you losing weight (such as high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes).

Once Orlistat treatment has commenced, you are expected to lose 5% of your body weight within 3 months. If this criterion is not met then the medication will likely be stopped and other obesity treatments explored.

Obesity treatment

There are a number of reasons that more and more people are struggling with obesity, from a lack of food education to mental issues to medical conditions and losing weight does not work the same way for everyone. However, it’s important to maintain a healthy weight as to not do so can lead to type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease and organ failure.

Thankfully, there are a vast number of weight loss techniques available to assist you in your weight loss journey.


One of the simplest rules of weight loss is that calorie intake should not exceed energy output. In other words, you need to be eating less than you’re using to avoid storing energy as fat and to burn through the fat that your body has already built up.

The best way to achieve this is to eat a varied and balanced diet, full of nutrients, protein and colour. Avoid “empty” calories like fast food and sugary drinks, but don’t deprive yourself of all treats as this can make it harder to stay on track.

If you’re taking Orlistat then you will need to carefully tailor your diet and aim for less than 30% of your total calorie intake to be made up of fats. Making smart swaps to low-fat options (spreads, sauces and dairy foods) and choosing lean cuts of meat are simple ways to follow this.


As well as eating less, you will need to move more, in order to lose weight. Try to find an exercise or sport that you enjoy and work it into your routine until it just becomes a part of your daily life.

Exercise also doesn’t have to mean a mammoth gym session or doing something that leaves you pouring with sweat. Again, it’s about simple swaps. Take the stairs instead of the lift, cut out driving short journeys and walk instead, and try to park a little bit away from where you’re going to get a few extra steps in.


Those who struggle with weight problems usually do not do so solely in relation to food and exercise. There are normally some other issues there, be it an unhealthy relationship with food, low self esteem or using food as a comfort mechanism.

When you begin your weight loss journey, it’s important to focus on yourself and your mental wellbeing, rather than just the changes to your body. Have a support network around you who can encourage your journey and help you when you’re struggling. Also remember that you should be your biggest supporter; set realistic weight loss goals and don’t be too hard on yourself if you slip up.