Coke energy drink's weight loss claims questioned

Coca-Cola, in conjunction with Nestlé, has launched a carbonated, green tea beverage fortified with calcium and caffeine, which the companies claim can lead to weight loss. Coke and Nestle said the drink, called Enviga, could raise the metabolic rate sufficiently to burn 60 to 100 calories if three 12-oz cans are consumed in a 24-hour period.

"Enviga contains the optimum blend of green tea extracts (EGCG), caffeine and naturally active plant micronutrients designed to work with your body to increase calorie burning, thus creating a negative calorie effect," said Coke chief scientist Dr Rhona Applebaum.

But critics have questioned the calorie-burning claims. Lona Sandon, national spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, said a combination of caffeine and green tea could raise the metabolic rate in some consumers and therefore increase the calorie burn rate, but was unlikely to cause weight loss. "We are kidding ourselves if we think we can drink this and melt the pounds away. These companies are just playing on people's desires for a quick fix for weight loss," Sandon said. "This won't make up for a poor diet and lack of exercise and this amount of caffeine could even cause problems for people who are sensitive to caffeine."

Marion Nestle, a nutrition professor at New York University, said the claims were based on inconclusive research with little evidence as to how the drink would affect calorie burn rates of people going about their everyday lives. "The idea that this drink will help people lose weight is just ridiculous," Nestle told Reuters. "It is an example of the lengths to which companies will go to sell products."

Enviga joins a list of energy drink launches with increased levels of active and exotic ingredients such as caffeine and guarana. Others include Cocaine (by Nevada-based start-up Redux Beverages), which claims the caffeine equivalent of three regular cups of coffee per can, and Missouri-based brewer Anheuser-Busch's 180 Blue, which contains acai as well as guarana, B vitamins, minerals, fibre, proteins, omega-3 fatty acids and anthocyanins.

Enviga will be available in three flavours — green tea, berry and peach — in supermarkets, mass merchandisers, convenience stores, pharmacies and club stores. It will retail at $1.29-$1.49.

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