I like the fact that one of these beverages is being sold by a "former tech entrepreneur" who acknowledges that he needs to break through people's skepticism. Also that being sold by Coca-Cola would make the whole thing more legitimate. [laff track]
Coke's Calorie-Burning Enviga Slated for 2006 Debut
NEW YORK Coca-Cola is planning to launch Enviga, a soda that is said to burn 50 to 100 calories just by drinking a 12-oz. serving, next year, per one executive.
Enviga, a green tea-based, caffeinated, carbonated drink, is in clinical testing and is said to speed up the user's metabolism. The beverage will target active lifestyle consumers. A Coke rep said, "Some [of our projects] may find their way to market and some may not." Studies have shown that drinking green tea may promote weight loss by stimulating the body to burn calories.
Coke, Nestle developing calorie-burning tea
ATLANTA, Ga. - Sit back, have a drink, and lose weight.
Well, maybe. A handful of entrepreneurs aim to take the term "diet drink" to a whole new level, promising to speed metabolism, burn calories, and aid in weight loss. Though the niche still is composed of tiny brands you've probably never heard of, Atlanta-based Coca-Cola may get in the game.
Nestle, a partner with Coke on bottled tea products, has filed a trademark for a drink called Enviga. The two companies have been developing a tea that would burn calories, say four people familiar with the project. It may be carbonated and come in several flavors, including green tea, lemon/lime and orange.
A Coke spokesman declined to comment, other than to say that Coke is always researching and developing many products. It is too early to speculate about when or if Enviga will hit the market.
In the meantime, companies are pushing products like Skinny Water, a bottled water that claims to speed metabolism and spur weight loss; Celsius, which comes in cola, lemon/ lime and ginger ale flavors and promises increased metabolism; and Fuze Slenderize, a fruity drink that touts ingredients known to aid in weight loss.
The young companies need to prove their science to consumers, many of whom are wary of yet another weight loss promise.
A leading scientist in food nutrition says this isn't too good to be true - at least not in theory.
David Allison, a professor and director of the Clinical Nutrition Research Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said he wasn't familiar with drinks that speed metabolism. However, he said it "absolutely" is possible. There are substances out there - now mostly available in powder form - that increase metabolism, which basically means they increase the rate at which the body expends energy while resting.
It is easy to measure such metabolism changes in a laboratory to prove a claim, he said.
However, he points out that even if laboratory tests prove drinks do speed metabolism, it is harder to prove drinks will lead to weight loss or that they are safe for everyone.
Drinks don't need approval from the Food and Drug Administration.
Only drugs - products that claim to prevent, cure or treat a disease - have to get approval in advance.
Even so, convincing consumers may prove challenging. While shopping at a Publix in Midtown on a recent evening, Tessa Immich, 42, a fitness buff, said she drinks water only and called the new drinks "marketing gimmicks."
Twenty-four-year-old Monica Bryant said, "It would depend on the taste. but I probably wouldn't buy into it."
And some diet experts are dubious.
"Consumers need to be aware of anything that says easy weight loss, anything that promotes a quick fix," said Jessica Enders, a registered dietician at Emory University Hospital.
To the entrepreneurs, persuading people to drink their products is just a matter of education.
Steve Haley, a former tech entrepreneur who is behind Celsius, says he is making point-of-purchase displays that explain the science behind Celsius to consumers. Celsius' claim to boost metabolism was verified by an independent research center, he said.
"To crack the skepticism, we need to have a little more of an education piece than you would for a soda water," he said.
Celsius is available at Tom Thumb and Circle K stores in the company's home state of Florida and soon will be available throughout the Southeast at Circle K.
Skinny Water's president, Michael Salaman, also says he has scientific evidence to back up claims that his drink speeds metabolism and spurs weight loss. Skinny Water was tested at Georgetown University in Washington, he said.
Skinny Water, based in Bryn Mawr, Pa., launches in 7- Eleven stores next month.
Salaman thinks consumers will be attracted to how easy it is - just drink Skinny Water three times a day and improve your diet. He's already planning Skinny Tea and Skinny Juice.
Fuze, a New Jersey-based drink company with a lineup that includes Fuze Slenderize, is the most established player, though still tiny by Coke or Pepsi standards. Slenderize is sold at retailers including Publix, Kroger and Costco.
Though Fuze CEO Lance Collins acknowledges he hasn't done scientific tests on his drinks, the bottle touts an ingredient called Citrimax that is "known to suppress appetite, reduce conversion of carbohydrates into fat and promote weight loss."
Gary Hemphill - marketing director at Beverage Marketing Corp., a research and consulting firm - said health and wellness generally was the hot area where most beverage innovation was happening. Hemphill said it was harder to predict whether the metabolism-boosting niche would take off.
"It is too soon to tell," he said.
If Coke gets into the game, however, it could add legitimacy.
"If a major company like Coke or Pepsi introduced this kind of product, their responsibility about making such claims would help legitimate not just their own products, but also the entire class of products," said Beverage Digest Editor and Publisher John Sicher, who has reported on Enviga.
Salaman, who has read about Coke's plans, said the beverage giant's entry into the market would not hurt Skinny Water. Coke has the marketing budget to educate people that such drinks work, which is good for everyone, he said.
"This just shows the market is moving toward enhanced beverages," he said.