New Pepsi Special soda claims to block fat

1:14 PM, Nov 14, 2012   |    comments
A screen capture from a web ad for Pepsi Special
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(NBC) -- A soda that claims to prevent the absorption of fat in your body is launching in Japan this week. What's next, cavity-reducing candy?

PepsiCo is rolling out the the new cola, "Pepsi Special," which contains dextrin, an indigestible fiber ingredient that is also used in some baked goods.

This is not the first time soda has had a weight-loss spin. The Japanese company Kirin Beverage has a sugarfree soda targeted to men in their 30s that also contains dextrin. Extra caffeine, 200 milligrams, in the Celsius energy drink claimed to "burn fat" and raise metabolism. And Coca-Cola's Fuze Slenderize energy fruit drinks have been around for more than a decade, promising their blend of minerals help the calorie conscious slim down.

Somehow we have this love-hate relationship with soda that we want it to have some redeeming health features. Maybe that's because nearly half of Americans drink at least one glass of soda a day, according to a recent Gallup survey. We have to make ourselves feel better about consuming all those empty calories.

Now we have fat-blocking soda. The "science" to this claim is that a non-digestible starch called dextrin, which is classified as fiber is added to regular Pepsi. Dietary fiber does help to absorb dietary fat, so technically, this is true. Despite the flimsy connection, this kind claim is not illegal in Japan.

The Japanese approval process is lenient for these kinds of fortified foods, and this soda certainly won't harm anyone -- it's safe. But don't expect this on US shelves anytime soon. The FDA regulates foods and beverages and monitors health claims made by these products. The FDA prevents soda and candy from being fortified with nutrients. (Fiber is a nutrient).

The bottom line is, as you well know -- when it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Pepsi Special is being distributed in Japan through the soft drink maker's partnership with the beverage company Suntory Holdings Limited. A call to Pepsi's headquarters in Purchase, N.Y. wasn't returned.

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