You may have heard that the Coca-Cola Company has just launched a new drink that goes by the name of Enviga that, it is claimed, actually helps us to burn calories. The drink contains both caffeine and an extract of green tea that, we are told, stimulate the metabolism. Apparently, drinking three cans of Enviga should help us burn 60-100 calories without doing a thing.
When food companies focus on one or two components of a foodstuff I get nervous. What is most important to focus on is the health effects of a food as a whole. Just this week, for instance, research was published that soft drinks may increase the risk of osteoporosis, and some evidence actually has suggested caffeine might be one of the culprits here.
I am unable to find anywhere on the web an ingredients list for Enviga, but I would expect that one or more artificial sweeteners will make an appearance here. Not only is there not any good research to suggest that artificial sweeteners actually help weight loss, there is also some evidence which suggests they may actually increase our appetite which has important implications for weight [1, 2]. Also, while a lot of industry funded studies say artificial sweeteners are safe, a lot of independently-funded studies suggest they are not. Just last year a study was published in which rats fed doses of aspartame (NutraSweet) comparable with permitted levels in our diet were found to be at increased risk of several forms of cancer including lymphoma and leukaemia (cancer of the white blood cells) .
There is, of course, another potential ‘cost’ to drinking Enviga ” the expense. I have read on the web that a can of this stuff will retail for about $1.39 a can which equates to about 75 pence. At three cans a day, the annual expense works out to be a staggering �£820.00.
Now let’s do some maths to see what, in theory, the impact of drinking three cans of Enviga a day may be on weight. Ignoring other health effects including a potential sharpening of appetite, we are told that 3 cans of Enviga will burn 60-100 calories for free. Let’s call that 80 calories on average, which equals an annual calorie burn of about 29,000. Not all calories burned are fat. Assuming 75 per cent of calories burned are fat, that equates to 22,000 calories of fat. Because there’s 9 calories in each gram of fat, this equates to 2.5 kg (or about 5.5 lb) of fat lost over the course of a year.
Now let’s go back to that annual cost of �£820.00, and divide this by 2.5 to get the cost per kg of fat lost. That comes out to about �£330.00 per kg of fat lost ” not what one would regard as a great return on investment!
Food companies are constantly striving to be seen to be offering us ‘healthy’ foods. The reality is that any foodstuff that bears little or no resemblance to something found in nature is unlikely to do us much good. And foods with a weight loss promise tend to come at a premium too. I reckon the only place that such foodstuffs are likely to leave us lighter is in the pocket.
1. Lavin JH, et al. The Effect of Sucrose- and Aspartame-Sweetened Drinks on Energy Intake, Hunger and Food Choice of Female, Moderately Restrained Eaters Int J Obes. 1997 21:37-42
2. Tordoff MG, et al. Alleva AM. Oral stimulation with aspartame increases hunger. Physiol Behav 1990 47:555″559
3. Soffritti M, et al. First experimental demonstration of the multipotential carcinogenic effects of aspartame administered in the feed to Sprague-Dawley rats. Environ Health Perspect. 2006 Mar;114(3):379-85