What are the Best Weight Loss Tablets in the UK?

Best Weight Loss Tablets In The Uk

In the UK, the issue of obesity is more pressing than ever, with an increasing number of people looking for effective weight loss management. The Health Survey for England 2021 found that 26% of adults in England are obese, and 37.9% are overweight (with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or above).

While diet and exercise are the foundation of weight management, meet their weight loss goals with these methods alone. This has increased interest in weight loss tablets as a supplementary solution. Using OpenPrescribing, we found that in the last 12 months alone, the NHS has prescribed over 400,000 drugs for the use of treatment of obesity. Weight loss tablets offer a helping hand in the journey towards a healthier weight, providing an additional tool for those struggling to see results. 

What are weight loss pills?

Weight loss pills are designed to support individuals in their journey to lose weight. Unlike weight loss supplements, these drugs are often subject to more rigorous testing and regulation, aiming to provide a safe and effective aid alongside a healthy diet and exercise. They are mainly geared towards those who have struggled to achieve significant weight loss through lifestyle changes alone. In various forms, weight loss pills can be prescribed by healthcare professionals or, in some cases, purchased over the counter. Their primary goal is to offer a helping hand in reducing body weight, making the path to a healthier lifestyle more accessible for those facing challenges with traditional weight loss methods.

How do weight loss pills work? 

Weight loss pills target various aspects of the metabolic process, offering a multifaceted approach to weight management. Their mechanisms can categorised into three main types: appetite suppression, fat absorption reduction, and metabolic rate enhancement.

Appetite Suppression

These weight loss tablets increase the feeling of fullness and reduce overall calorie intake. They can also interact with the body’s natural hunger signals or neurotransmitters in the brain, which are responsible for appetite control, making it easier for people to consume fewer calories without feeling deprived.

Fat Absorption Reduction

Certain weight loss tablets are designed to inhibit the body’s ability to absorb fat from the food you eat. These pills can effectively reduce the calories absorbed from meals by blocking the enzymes that break down fat for absorption. This unabsorbed fat is then eliminated from the body in the stool, contributing to a deficit necessary for weight loss.

Metabolic Rate Enhancement

Some weight loss capsules aim to increase the body’s metabolic rate, which is the rate at which the body burns calories. These are also known as ‘fat burners’. By boosting metabolism, these medications help the body burn more throughout the day, even at rest. This increase in energy can contribute to faster weight loss when combined with a healthy diet and regular exercise.

It’s important to note that the effectiveness of weight loss pills can vary significantly from person to person, and their success often depends on complementary lifestyle changes, such as improved diet and increased physical activity.

Each type of weight loss treatment has potential side effects and risks, highlighting the importance of consulting with a GP or pharmacist before starting any weight loss medication.

Orlistat Weight Loss Tablets

Orlistat is one of the most widely recognised and prescribed weight loss medications available in the UK, known for its effectiveness in helping users shed excess pounds. It functions by inhibiting the enzyme lipase, which is necessary for the breakdown and absorption of fats in the diet. As a result, a portion of the fat consumed is not digested and is instead excreted from the body, helping you lose weight. Orlistat is available under several names, each catering to different needs and circumstances:

  • Unbranded Orlistat: This is the generic form of the medication, offering the same effectiveness as its branded counterparts but often at a lower cost. It is prescription only and suitable for those seeking a cost-effective option.
  • Alli: Available over the counter, Alli is a lower-dose version of Orlistat, ideal for those looking for a milder option or who prefer the convenience of not needing a prescription. It’s suitable for adults with a BMI over 28 and should be used with a reduced-calorie, low-fat diet.
  • Xenical: The prescription-strength form of Orlistat, Xenical, is intended for those with a high BMI who have previously attempted weight loss through diet and exercise alone without success. Xenical provides a stronger dose than Alli, making it a potent option under medical supervision.

While Orlistat can effectively aid weight loss, users must be mindful of potential side effects, such as gastrointestinal discomfort and other digestive issues, especially with high-fat meals. These effects are generally mild and can be minimised by a low-fat diet. 

Prolonged Release Weight Loss Tablets 

Prolonged-release tablets are a weight loss medication designed to release their active ingredients slowly. This approach offers several benefits, including more stable blood levels, reduced dosing frequency, and potentially fewer side effects. 


Mysimba targets the two brain areas that regulate food intake and energy consumption. It contains a combination of naltrexone and bupropion, which help reduce appetite and control cravings. The prolonged-release formulation of Mysimba allows for a gradual increase in dosage, helping to minimise side effects as the body adjusts to the medication. Those taking this medication should follow a calorie-reduced diet and exercise regularly to achieve the best results.

The benefits of prolonged-release tablets like Mysimba include improved patient adherence to the medication regimen, as fewer daily doses are easier to remember and manage. Additionally, the steady release of medication can lead to a better patient experience, as it avoids the peaks and troughs in blood concentration associated with immediate-release formulations.

Mysimba is not exempt from side effects, including nausea, constipation, headache, dizziness, and dry mouth. More serious but less common side effects are increased blood pressure or heart rate, necessitating monitoring within a specialist weight management plan. 

Other Types of Weight Loss Treatments 

Weight Loss Injections 

Weight loss injections, such as Wegovy, Mounjaro and Saxenda, mimic the action of the GLP-1 receptor hormone, which helps lower blood sugar levels and promotes feeling fuller for longer. This can lead to a significant reduction in overall calorie intake and support weight loss. 

However, it’s important to be aware of the potential side effects associated with weight loss injections, which can range from mild gastrointestinal issues to more severe conditions like pancreatitis and gallbladder problems. Choosing to use these injections should depend on your health and weight loss goals.

People might choose weight loss injections over tablets for their convenience and effectiveness, as injections often provide a more sustained release of medication, leading to potentially better appetite control and longer-lasting effects. Additionally, those who have difficulty adhering to a daily pill regimen may find the weekly or monthly injection schedule more manageable and less intrusive to their daily lives.

Some individuals may prefer weight loss tablets over injections due to their non-invasive nature, avoiding the discomfort or anxiety associated with needles. Tablets can also offer more flexibility in dosage adjustments and are often seen as a less intimidating first step into medically assisted weight management.

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