The Fat Blocker
The Fat Blocker, by Arnold Fox, M.D., and Brenda Adderly, M.H.A. St. Martin’s Press, 1997, $22.95.
I want to believe what I’m told in this book, badly. For if it’s true, then losing weight and lowering cholesterol are almost as easy as taking Tylenol. Here’s why.
There exists a naturally occurring substance called chitin, found in shellfish shells and mushrooms. In 1859, for some reason, a professor Rouget cooked chitin in alkali and discovered that this new form of chitin, christened Chitosan, sticks to fat like gum on shoes. We can’t digest Chitosan, and when it passes out of us the clinging fat passes with it. Voila! Pop a Chitosan pill, and of the 24 fat grams you swallowed in your McDonald’s Quarter Pounder, 15 grams stick to Chitosan instead of your thighs. So your body now has to battle just nine grams of fat. And less fat means less calories and less cholesterol. Please, let it be true!
Dr. Arnold, who practices privately in Beverly Hills, California, swears that it’s not only true, it’s also scientifically and clinically proven. He backs this claim with mountains of compelling examples of patients who’ve had amazing success with Chitosan, coupled with a brief nod to scientific research. Beyond Chitosan, he and Adderly do a good job of explaining in understandable terms the health problems associated with obesity, as well as the drawbacks of many popular diets, including the Zone, Scarsdale and Atkins diets. They also thoroughly explain their Eight-Point Fat Blocker Program, which involves a low-fat diet, exercise (sound familiar?) and, of course, Chitosan. They include tips on how to stay motivated while dieting and avoid dieting mistakes.
The problem is that both the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Dietetic Association (ADA) urge extreme caution when it comes to swallowing Chitosan, which is available in many health food stores. “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” states ADA’s Maryanne Giustino. Neither she nor an AMA spokesman have even heard of Chitosan. I don’t know about you, but that makes me a wee bit nervous. An Internet search using the powerful Grateful Med search engine produced only a handful of relevant journal articles, few published in highly respected peer-reviewed journals and nearly all using rats or test tubes, not humans, for subjects. While these studies do suggest that Chitosan really does decrease fat absorption, they do not prove that Chitosan is safe and effective for humans as prescribed by Arnold.
Now maybe the AMA, the ADA and I are just behind the times, and maybe in a decade we’ll all be gulping Chitosan right along with our morning vitamins, but for now, I’ll stick with jogging, skim milk and meal-time moderation to keep the weight off.