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Pepsi Unleashes So-Called ‘Fat Blocking’ Soda on Japan

Pepsi Unleashes So-Called ‘Fat Blocking’ Soda on Japan

Soft drink giant Pepsi has released a new soda it says will block fat, reduce bad cholesterol and lead to a healthier you. Problem is, the claims don’t stack up.

The new drink, dubbed Pepsi Special, is said to contain dextrin — essentially an indigestible form of dietary fiber. †This, Pepsi’s sole Japanese distributor Suntory claims, means that the body will “block” fat. The gold and black labelled wonder soda apparently can even stop a rise in triglycerides that normally follows a meal, and could, they say, lower blood pressure.

The science backing up these amazing claims is slightly less staggering, though.

Suntory points to a 2006 Japanese study on rats as evidence that their dextrin enhanced sugar and corn-syrup drink can do what they say it can. Indeed, the study of rats did find rats fed dextrin absorbed less fat than those who weren’t.

The Japanese Ministry of Health has reportedly even gone so far as to give Pepsi Special its seal of approval as a health drink, saying it is “intended to be consumed for the†maintenance/promotio​n†of health or special health uses by people who wish to control health conditions, including blood pressure or blood cholesterol.”

This isn’t a surprise. Dextrin enhanced drinks sold as “health” products are an increasing feature of the Japanese soft drink market.

There’s just one problem. Most of Pepsi Special’s reported benefits aren’t backed up by science.

Firstly, indigestible†dietary fiber is just that — it doesn’t “block” your fat uptake, it simply careens through your body searching for the exit.

What of the weight loss claims? There may be a grain of truth to this potential benefit, but it’s only slight.

A 2001 study by the University of Washington found that adding dextrin to certain foods can allow fiber to do what fiber does best: make you feel fuller for longer. The study calculated that the effect of this might lead to you cutting out as much as 72 calories from your next meal. A 2011 study has also supported the potential benefits of adding dextrin to beverages in order to curb the appetite.

However, saying the drink could lower cholesterol overstates dextrin’s benefits. It is true that some added fibers have been shown to potentially lower LDL cholesterol. However, whether dextrin-laced soft drinks have such a benefit remains to be tested.

In fact, the only supported way that dextrin laced soft drinks might lead to lower cholesterol seems to be through a subsequently (and only slightly) reduced appetite. However, eating less of bad cholesterol-boosting foods as a result of sipping on the soft drink is hardly the panacea Suntory is claiming.

Furthermore, there are the overriding health concerns that accompany soft drinks.

Suntory has yet to release the exact levels of sugar and corn syrup in its new Pepsi Special. We know, however, that people find it incredibly hard to gauge just how much sugar can be in soft drinks and even fruit drinks that would traditionally fall under the bracket of “healthy” alternatives to soda.

This alone should make us pause about any soft drink that claims to be a health product because, if it does nothing to reduce the levels of potentially harm-causing sugars, any of its other claimed health benefits are rendered secondary at best.

Furthermore, there’s a strong body of observational evidence that suggests a casual (but, admittedly, not causal) link between soda consumption and health risks like heart disease, stroke, obesity-related complications such as†diabetes†and more. To be clear, it is incredibly unlikely that soda consumption alone would lead to these health risks; it is, however, obviously disingenuous to label a soda drink as a health product when there is no proof that these risks have been mitigated.

Dr. Melina Jampolis, a physician nutrition specialist and CCNhealth expert, is quoted as saying that adding synthetic fibers to unhealthy foods and drink is like “putting lipstick on a pig.”

She goes on to say, “It’s true that†naturally occurring soluble†fiber thatís present in oats, barley, cruciferous vegetables and the stuff in seeds and the skin of apples does help block cholesterol absorption but there’s no publicly available evidence suggesting that synthetic fibers do this too.”

It’s unlikely that Pepsi Special will be in U.S. stores anytime soon, however. Fortified soft drinks masquerading as health products are usually blocked by the FDA. Certainly, Bloomberg would have none of this†malarkey.


Related Reading:

Bloomberg Shaking up†Soda Pop with Politics

Where Do You Stand on the Supersize†Soda Ban?

Banning†Soda in Schools Has Little Impact

Read more: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Image credit: Thinkstock.

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8:21AM PST on Feb 10, 2013

It's called DESPERATION...More and more people are replacing the pop with healthier alternatives,such as WATER!!!!NooOOoOooo way this can at all be credible. Great article though,thanks!!!

12:05PM PST on Jan 15, 2013

Nie piję pepsi w ogóle.

2:39AM PST on Dec 31, 2012


12:32PM PST on Nov 28, 2012

I believe the soda industry is now feeling the effects of people taking awareness into how destructive it really is to the human body. They are now trying in every conceivable way to keep up with the trend of "going natural", "cutting fat, calories, etc.", anything that'll bring them up to speed with healthy alternatives in eating and drinking.

No matter how many mechanisms there are in soda to prevent fat or calories from building, it still won't save the fact that soda all around is nothing but harmful chemicals overall!

2:03AM PST on Nov 27, 2012

Thanks for article, it's just plain dumb to stop over-sized drinks! As an American it's our choice to drink the size we want! Thanks for article, good luck Pepsi!

12:04AM PST on Nov 27, 2012

My dentist won't care how many calories it blocks. He'll just tell me it's bad for my teeth...and my kidneys...and my blood sugar. Green tea, anyone?

1:59PM PST on Nov 25, 2012

Soda the new health drink?

9:15AM PST on Nov 25, 2012

i havent drank soda regularly unless its mixed with jack in over ten years....there's plenty else out there that actually will curb your thirst lol

8:52PM PST on Nov 24, 2012

make that a large diet Coke.

8:23AM PST on Nov 22, 2012

@Chris D., maybe you're exaggerating a bit?

All in all, a very good article. Well written, backed by scientific evidence and yet, simple enough for everyone to understand.

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