For people with a serious obesity problem, dieting and exercising may not be enough on their own. Taking a pill that replicates the effects of exercise may be one solution, but scientists from the University of Kansas are developing what could be another – compounds that keep the fat in foods from being absorbed by the body.

Known as micelle sequestrant polymers (MSPs), the compounds capture fat particles called micelles while they’re still in the intestines. Subsequently, instead of being digested, those micelles are passed with the feces.

In lab tests, mice that had ingested MSPs had nine to 10 times the amount of triglycerides in their stools than control animals (triglycerides are the main dietary fat). As there was no evidence of the MSPs themselves being absorbed by the body, the scientists are hopeful that they may be safe for long-term use.

A paper on the research was recently published in the journal Biomacromolecules.