Calorie-busting drink launched in US

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Here's a sales pitch any street hustler or miracle-cure vendor would have to love: drink Coca-Cola, and lose weight at the same time!

That may sound, at first blush, about as likely as beach-front property in Wolverhampton. But the company responsible for the world's most popular variant on carbonated sugar-water is serious. Next month, the Coca-Cola Company is launching a tea-based drink called Enviga which, it says, will actually burn more calories than it adds to the body of the average, healthy consumer.

Enviga, a joint venture between Coca-Cola and Nestlé, will contain a cocktail of caffeine, calcium and a green tea extract called epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG. The drink will essentially be a stimulant, speeding up the metabolism and thus encouraging energy burning.

According to research conducted by Nestlé at the University of Lausanne - now being touted by Coca-Cola but yet to be published in full - a healthy person aged between 18 and 35 could lose up to 100 calories by drinking three 12oz cans of Enviga over the course of a day. The drink itself contains about five calories.

When it is rolled out next month - starting in New York and Philadelphia, and slowly spreading across the US and the rest of the world over the course of the next year or so - Enviga will take its place in the emerging market for so-called "negative calorie" drinks.

A Florida company has already produced a drink called Celsius, which it claims raises the metabolism rate by as much as 12 per cent and "significantly increases calorie-burning". The negative calorie products are, in themselves, an offshoot of the energy drinks first made popular a few years ago. Coca-Cola is being relatively cautious about the claims it is making about Enviga. The company's chief scientist Rhona Applebaum said: "This is not a magic bullet."

Deborah Roberts, the company's senior brand manager for North America, said Enviga would be marketed to people who already lead relatively healthy lives. "This is about the small steps you take every day to have a more balanced lifestyle," she said. The drink will come in three flavours, green tea, berry and peach, and sell for about 80p.

Coca-Cola has made repeated attempts to shake the unhealthy image of its soda products, not always successfully. Its foray into the lucrative bottled water market famously came unstuck in Britain when the company was forced to admit that its brand, Dasani, was just tap water.