Gaining weight after taking orlistat: A qualitative study of patients at 18-months follow-up

J Health Psychol. 2016 May;21(5):590-8. doi: 10.1177/1359105314532153. Epub 2014 May 8.


Orlistat is currently the only prescribed form of pharmacological management for obesity and functions by reducing the amount of fat absorbed from food eaten. Although frequently prescribed, there is marked variability in outcomes. A total of 10 participants' experiences of gaining weight after taking orlistat were analysed using thematic analysis. Participants attributed their failed weight loss to mechanisms of the medication, emphasised a medical model of obesity with barriers to their weight loss and other weight-loss methods which had also failed. Overall, their weight gain was considered an inevitable part of their self-identity, reflecting their self-fulfilling prophecy of being a perpetual dieter.

Keywords: adherence; diet; medication; obesity; self-identity.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anti-Obesity Agents / adverse effects*
  • Anti-Obesity Agents / therapeutic use
  • Diet / psychology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Lactones / adverse effects*
  • Lactones / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Medication Adherence / psychology
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / drug therapy*
  • Obesity / psychology*
  • Orlistat
  • Qualitative Research
  • Self Concept*
  • Treatment Failure
  • Weight Gain / drug effects*


  • Anti-Obesity Agents
  • Lactones
  • Orlistat