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Have they really invented a miracle pill that will let you eat as much as you want and STILL lose weight?


It is every dieter's dream - a pill that allows you to lose weight safely without actually going on a diet.

But such fat-fighting drugs are already the stuff of reality, according to researchers.

They say tablets widely used to lower blood pressure could help melt away unwanted pounds as well.

Experiments suggest that ACE inhibitor pills can speed up the metabolism, allowing excess weight to be lost quickly.

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Fat buster: Scientists may have made a breakthrough that could pave the way for fat-burning drugs that will reduce the need to exercise to lose weight

The findings could lead to the pills, taken by millions to combat hypertension, being repackaged as fat-burners.

Ultimately, they, or similar drugs, could allow the overweight to shed flab without even setting foot

in a gym. With up to a quarter of Britons thought to be trying to lose weight and obesity rates the highest in Europe, such a pill would have mass appeal.

Australian researchers made the breakthrough in experiments on mice genetically altered to lack an enzyme found in fat cells.

Those lacking this angiotension-converting enzyme, as it is known, weighed 20 per cent less than other mice and had up to 60 per cent less body fat.

The GM mice were no more active than the other creatures and ate just as much food but their metabolism was faster.

They also processed sugar more quickly, suggesting they were at lower risk of diabetes, says a report in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The finding raises the possibility that drugs that block the enzyme, such as blood pressure-lowering ACE inhibitors, could be used to help humans lose weight.

Warning that more work needs to be done before the prescription-only pills are used to fight fat, researcher Dr Michael Matthias said: "The drugs are out there because they are used for hypertension.

"So we know their safety and their tolerability. What we don't know is whether or not they will work in humans."

The researcher, from Melbourne University, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I don't think this will replace the need for careful control of diet and encouraging more exercise.

"If people look at increasing their food intake then all that will do is cancel out the beneficial effects of increasing metabolic rate."

Dr Ian Campbell, medical director of the British charity Weight Concern, said: "All the evidence we have is that nothing works better than a healthy diet and increased physical activity, with or without weight loss drugs."

• You're overweight. But as the scales tip a little too far in the wrong direction, you console yourself-with that great run you just did around the park. Unfortunately, simply being active isn't enough to guarantee your health.

Doctors now say it is not possible to be "fat and fit". An 11-year study in the U.S. of almost 40,000 women found those who were overweight yet active were still more than 50 per cent more likely to develop heart disease than those of normal weight who did similar amounts of exercise.

The findings showed that while exercise can counter some of the ill-effects of over-indulgence, it cannot erase them.

The researchers, from The Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre in Boston, concluded: "Even high quantities of physical activity are unlikely to fully reverse the risk of coronary heart disease in overweight and obese women without concurrent weight loss."

Another involved in the study rammed home the point. "If you're overweight or obese, you can't really get back to that lower risk with just physical activity alone."

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