A pill that promises dieters will 'drop a dress size' could be on sale in the UK within months, according to reports.
The Daily Mail claims the American company behind lorcaserin has applied for permission to sell the drug in Britain and Europe under the brand name Belviq. And if successful, the firm aims to produce a version suitable for children.
Lorcaserin, which works by suppressing appetite, is taken before breakfast and dinner, and a study of 7,000 adults who took the pill for a year lost an average of eight per cent. In some cases, participants lost a shocking 40 per cent of their excess weight.
Manufacturer Arena hopes the slimming pill will get the green light in the first half of 2013, and the company has already drawn up plans for a paediatric version aimed at obese youngsters between the ages of six and 18.
Craig Audet, senior vice president of Arena, said: "When obese children go through puberty, it is almost impossible for them to lose weight. That's why treating children at a younger age may make sense if diet and exercise alone don't work."
Should Belviq get the go ahead in Europe, trials involving children would need to be done - and since those would not begin until the drug has been on the market for at least a year, it is likely a paediatric version would not be on sale for at least five years.
But British experts have reacted with horror to the idea. Tam Fry, of the Child Growth Foundation, described the idea of medicating obese youngsters as "playing with fire".
And Dr Ia Campbell, medical director of obesity charity Weight Concern, told the Mail: "My immediate reaction is that I shudder to even contemplate it."
According to the paper, a children's version of the drug could come in the form of a flavoured syrup, chewy pill or soluble tablet.
What do you think? Would you allow your child to take a slimming pill if they were struggling to lose weight? Leave your comments below...