The First Negative Calorie Drink? Green Tea Beverage, Enviga, Claims to Burn Calories. A drink that can make you lose weight, sound to good to be true? The Center for Science in the Public Interest says yes it is.
Canada will have to wait to try one of Coca-Cola’s newest products, Enviga, the carbonated green tea beverage that claims to be the first negative calorie drink.
Coca-Cola claims that three cans will speed up the metabolism enough to burn about 100 calories.
It hit the States in December, but Coca-Cola does not plan to sell Enviga in Canada, says Stephanie Baxter, senior manager of communications for Coca-Cola in Canada.
Baxter says she can not say why Canada has not yet adopted the new product. She does not say whether the decision has to do with some legal issues the company faces in the States.
“Basically it doesn’t really do what they say it does,” says Stephen Gardner, the head lawyer for The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a U.S. not-for-profit consumer watch dog organization. The center served Coca-Cola with a notice to stop Enviga’s deceptive marketing strategy before the courts get involved.
Gardner’s main objection is Enviga’s negative calorie promise. The claim, he says, was backed only by a small, short-term, self-funded study that has landed Coca-Cola in a pool of criticism and maybe a lawsuit soon.
“The study showed at best that some healthy-weighted 18-19 year-olds will see a small drop in calories… maybe. The only conceivable effect is minimal,” he says.
Specifically, the contention rises from Enviga’s market positioning as a weight-loss product. Coca-Cola’s Baxter refutes this, saying Coca-Cola does not advertise Enviga as a weight loss product at all, but a metabolism booster and a healthy choice.
“They affirmatively say that it burns calories. Well raising the amount of calories you burn is done to lose weight,” Gardner says.
A product that promises to change body function or structure is called a functional food, Gardner says, and it is making a drug claim. If that claim is unsubstantiated, it is illegal.
It might not be dangerous, he says, but it is a waste of people’s money and it is bad for the industry. He warns consumers to be discriminating when it comes to the increasingly popular functional food market, which has not surprisingly increased in a time where more people are trying to be health conscious, he says.
“I have heard from competitors that have said ‘I hope you get these guys’ because they don’t want to compete this way. They have ethics. These are market leaders setting a negative example for the industry.”
Pepsi has launched its own functional beverage, orange juice with omega-3 fatty acids, known for being heart healthy.