If someone said 'icky moment'' to you, what would you think of? Some spilt honey, or a blob of ketchup down your front? A baby spitting up on its parent's shoulder perhaps? Not, I'm guessing, anal incontinence. But 'icky moment'' is one of the euphemistic terms one website uses to describe this deeply unpleasant side effect of Alli, the recently launched otc weight loss drug. Another shows us pictures of happy healthy slim young people cooing over their apparent recent weight loss. And despite the fact that pharmacists are meant to establish that anyone wanting to buy Alli has a BMI of over 28, and is therefore clinically obese - it's ok if you don't fancy sharing that information with any stuffy old chemist person. Because you can just hop on the internet and buy it from Boots online, or another online pharmacy. Hooray!
A report in the British Medical Journal concluded that Alli didn't actually work any better than a low calorie low fat diet, and one journalist who tried it found that it worked through fear. She explained that having read the leaflet warning that the more fat you ate the more likely you were to shit yourself - sorry, experience an icky moment, terror of such humiliation made her reduce her fat intake to virtually zero. Funnily enough she lost a lot of weight.
But predictably the promise of a pill to make you slim, rather than having to diet and exercise, has had chubbies flocking to their local chemists. And the Glaxo Smith Kline executives chortling with glee. 'They stay fat - and poo their pants,' they laugh. 'And we get rich!'
Two of my children have always had to take handfuls of digestive enzymes when they eat, which have exactly the opposite effect to Alli. To put it another way, Alli creates the condition that they take pills to correct. Unsurprisingly they find the idea of this vaguely obscene. I share their view. Alli costs around £50 per month. That's a lot of salad, a monthly subscription to a gym, and (since they're not free) several prescriptions for digestive enzymes.