I've finally come up with a draft. I'm copying it below and welcome any suggestions for changes or additions. Dear Sir/Madam, I would like to begin by saying that I and the many people I am in contact with who have participated or are participating in the Lipotrim Programme are exceedingly happy with the plan and the results that can be achieved by giving it a full commitment and sticking to it 100%. While there is no doubt that it is a simple programme I don’t think you would argue that it isn’t always necessarily an easy one. It IS extreme and requires a strong, focussed and determined mindset. Knowing that the support and advice of the pharmacy, GP and/or yourselves is readily available to us is one of the things that helps to keep us focussed and feel we are not alone. I’m sure you will be able to imagine then just how demoralising, confusing and off-putting it can be when we find that advice to be conflicting. I am going to furnish you with just a few examples and hope that you receive them in the constructive manner they are meant. If it seemed that everyone was singing from the same hymn sheet we would feel far more confident in what we were hearing. I don’t just mean that advice conflicts between pharmacies and yourselves but from one pharmacy or even GP to another and between different people on your phone line. To a certain extent the differences in the pharmacies can be understood. Some pharmacists may have a slightly different focus than others. This may be why some take blood pressures and others don’t. Some measure height and calculate BMIs, others don’t. I have even heard of one that doesn’t encourage clients to get on the scales and in fact tried to dissuade one person from doing Lipotrim at all, recommending Be-Yu (?) instead. Some people don’t feel a great deal of support at the pharmacy being in and out in 2 minutes after a quick jump on the scales and payment taken for supplies. Some imply that it’s hard to do and not many people stick to it. Some are derogatory about 3 and 4lb losses, suggesting that the clients have been cheating or not drinking enough water etc. Worryingly several people have not been asked to fill in a medical form or asked about any medication they’re on. See below for just one example … “I visited my local pharmacy this afternoon, and although I have my packs I thought they were pretty useless! I had to ask them to weigh me, they didn't know how many packs to give me, and didn't ask me to complete the medical questionnaire until I pointed it out to them. Luckily I had done some research in advance and knew a little of what to expect. I was wondering if this was the norm, and what kind of support (if any) we should expect from the pharmacy? Based on my experience so far, this forum will be far more helpful!” The advice from pharmacies over what can be added by way of spices etc varies enormously. Some are also saying that Coke Zero is allowed, while others say it’s a definite no-no. This is an example of how thoughtless treatment can affect people … “The pharmacy has only just started doing Lipotrim and they have about six people on it. They agreed to put us on it, but basically the girl wouldn't commit to whether she'd let me hit my target weight (a BMI of about 22) or stop me when my BMI hit 25. Same with my husband. Then she gave me 14 packs of female formula and 7 packs of male, which I didn't notice till I got home! When we went to pay at the counter, there were two obese pharmacy staff and they made jokes at us at how we could have a slap-up meal out on the cost of a week's Lipotrim. Then they looked us up and down and told us we didn't look like we needed to do a diet. One of them was I would say somewhere between a size 18 - 20, (I'm a size 16), and she was saying "Look at me, I'm bigger than you and I'm not doing it." I'm just really, really annoyed about it. Are we actually kidding ourselves? Should we be on LipoTrim at all? Both of us loved the idea of total food replacement because we wanted to do something really strict, and not drag out a lengthy diet process where you go through phases of guilt and secret binging pleasure and learn a whole load of bad habits. We don't have the money for the gym and to be honest, with our work commitments, our chances to increase our activity levels won't change for a few months yet. I'm really confused now. I never thought anyone would make me feel bad about trying to improve my weight and my health (isn't the whole point of LipoTrim that it's a safe and monitored programme?!), but now I feel like it's some sort of club and I don't qualify because I'm not big enough.” This is one message I received recently … “I do not have any concerns with my chemist as they are all trained in the diet and are not allowed to deal with you otherwise. My chemist was so good he rang me when I had a difficulty and said he would do so every day if I needed him to. Thankfully I haven't. However I am concerned with the amount of people who don't seem to be seen by a trained professional after their initial consultation. This method of operation will make guidelines loose and can only lead to failure. Lipotrim has proven itself to be a great diet and a success, yet untrained staff will let it down and people may become disillusioned with it.” ….. which eloquently expresses the main concern. There is some dissatisfaction over the pricing structure – particularly in Northern Ireland and Eire. I’m sure you are aware of that. UK mainland seems to range from about £28 to £38 with most women paying £36. Men seem to be around £44-£48 per week. The question has been raised – could there not be a RRP? A specific question for you from someone in Cork, Ireland ….. “I'd like to know why its double or nearly double over here. My pharmacist doesn’t know and understands why I got to the UK when poss for supplies. I suspect they will mention exchange rates and vat difference but that would put the price up by no more than €2-3” I realise you can never have any influence over GPs personal opinions on VLCDs but just FYI there are stories of them being vehemently against people doing the plan and others strongly FOR it. The funniest was one who had never heard of it – despite the fact that there was a poster and leaflets about it in his reception and waiting area. So we all ask each other for advice and we ask our pharmacists but bottom line we always say – ‘ring the helpline to be sure’. So you can imagine, when we then begin to realise that we are being given different and conflicting information from the same source, it is extremely unsettling and confusing. Not to say disheartening as it calls into question the background knowledge of those who are supposed to be helping and supporting us, those at the very heart and foundation of the programme. Some examples? My personal experience of ringing up was when I started taking my shakes as mousses. I preferred them that way and wondered why it says on the carrier bag that we can make the vanilla or chocolate as a mousse but doesn’t mention the strawberry. I tried it and it was fine but if there was a reason I shouldn’t have it like that I wanted to know. I asked at the pharmacy and they didn’t know so I rang. The lady I spoke to didn’t know either, didn’t offer to find out, just asked me if I’d tried it and if it was okay and when I said it was, told me to carry on then. She rightly reminded me that I’d need an extra glass of water with a mousse and I said I didn’t think it was an issue as I drank about 4 litres a day anyway. She said I mustn’t drink more than 8 pints. Unable to calculate on the spur of the moment I assumed that 8 pints must be less than 4 litres (in fact it’s 4.5 but I didn’t know that at the time) so I said that if I had to drink less I knew I’d be thirsty. She then told me that I could have as much black tea and coffee as I liked as well and that the 8 pints didn’t count the amount I had in shakes. So I came off the phone thinking it was okay (after I’d worked it out!) to drink 4.5lts water PLUS 750mls in shakes PLUS as much tea & coffee as I liked. Someone else was told that the 4 litre maximum INCLUDES teas & coffees though not shakes and another person that it includes everything. Yet another person has been told that more than 8pts including tea & coffee means that the nutrients are washed away, lost in urine output and consequently our bodies can go into starvation mode. We all know what that means and this has led me to question whether the few weeks my losses were lousy might have been because of this. How much better could I have done had I had the correct information from the outset? I guess I’ll never know. Regarding adding spices to make the soup more palatable to some people. On one occasion someone was told it was okay to add black pepper and/or paprika, someone else was told not to use pepper as it comes from a berry and yet another person was told not to add ANYTHING to ANYTHING under any circumstances. There are also issues around refeeding and maintenance. I am going to quote 2 of the messages I had when I said I was thinking about writing to you. Firstly … “ok here’s what I found and basically why I’m back here doing LT again cause I just didn’t know what to do with such conflicting advice: I remember phoning them to ask about the maintenance side of things once you finish the shakes. they told me on two different occasions different facts. 1. it says on the maintenance paperwork that you eat maintenance products ALONG SIDE other foods (which should total no more than 100 cals). when i phoned about this the lady who answered said oh no, you have to REPLACE any food with the maintenance products so that you bring your weight down again. i did phone again about this and spoke to a man who said, no you have to replace all meals for anything up to a week at a time with maintenance products. so which is it??!!!! i then wondered, if you have to replace all meals, all the time does this then take you back into ketosis and would you have to do the refeed afterwards? no one knew. h xx “ And … “i did a menu for week and then phoned lipotrim to check it was ok. The lady told me not to snack in between meals, not to have evening snack and to limit carbohydrate, but on their sample menu day 4 to 7 there are snacks and an evening snack. Now I wasn’t going to do that but I think its really strange why they would put that on there and then when you phone they say no don’t do that. I asked why there’s no menu plan ideas for eg two weeks and they said it because there are too many ethnic and different people doing the diet to do that, but surely a few different menus could be done just for reference as what is on sample sheets you get from chemist is not very clear at all” My own observation would be that I find the maintenance leaflet unclear and the refeeding leaflet itself contradictory. On page 4 there is a list of what to include in your intake each day. 1 item is 2 small slices of wholemeal bread, or a roll, or a pita or a bagel. Another item on that list is a baked potato, 6 small new potatoes, a portion of mash or 4ozs of pasta or rice. My logical head worked out menus from this list but looked to the 2 samples on page 5 for ideas and timings ie if/when to have snacks etc. The first sample day has a potato serving at lunchtime, another potato serving at dinner and a sandwich in the evening. Surely this is too many carbohydrate servings and adds an extra potato serving to the ‘allowed’ list on page 4?? The reefed leaflet says to use the maintenance products after week 1 rather than the diet formulas. My pharmacy says I can use either, they sell both so it isn’t a matter of them trying to sell me what they stock. What does “- any of the skimmed milk products” actually mean? Audio tapes are mentioned on the refeeding leaflet. I pointed that out in my pharmacy when they gave me the leaflet – they didn’t know anything about them, so I have no idea what they contain or if they could have helped me. As I have already said, I am pointing out these examples as there is a strong feeling that as a company you can’t really do yourself justice if you aren’t aware of some of the issues people are having and do whatever you can to try to address them. There are many people waiting to see the outcome of this correspondence. We are all concerned that LT is seen in the best possible light as it is such an effective programme, currently let down by some inconsistencies, lack of clarity in some areas and certain pharmacies and their staff. I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.