It has been known for many years that hunger can be relieved in part by distension of the stomach. Preparations of methylcellulose swell in water and provide non-caloric bulk in the stomach. To reduce appetite sufficiently to be useful in helping to lose weight, a daily dose of about 9 or 10 g methylcellulose seems to be required.1 However the dose required of a particular preparation would be expected to depend on the speed with which it swells. The usual preparations, e.g. Methylcellulose Granules BNF, Celevac (Harker Stagg) and Cellucon (Medo-Chemicals) swell relatively slowly and are very unlikely to reach their final bulk before leaving the stomach. In fact many methylcellulose preparations are marketed as mild bulk laxatives rather than inhibitors of appetite. The bulk that they provide in the colon makes them particularly useful in constipated patients on low-residue diets, and also, paradoxically, in controlling watery diarrhoea.
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