Pepsi Tuesday launched a version of its popular cola in Japan that claims to block the absorption of fat. Could this new version of Pepsi solve Americans’ neck-and-neck desires for weight loss and sugary, super-sized beverages?
Simply called Pepsi Special, the caffeinated soft drink has the added ingredient dextrin, a natural water-soluble dietary fiber derived from potatoes. Japanese commercials touting the product’s effectiveness for weight loss even go as far as to ask, “Why choose between a hamburger and a slice of pizza? If you choose Pepsi Special, you can have both!” But does it work? Pepsi claims that dextrin slows the absorption of fat in the body by binding with it and eliminating it as waste, not reserving it as empty calories.
Pepsi is basing its claims on a Japanese study published in 2006 that showed that rats fed dextrin actually absorbed less fat than those that were not. And while some of the science behind dextrin is solid, chances are your stools won’t be if you overindulge.
Several U.S.-based research studies have examined the health benefits of dextrin and the reviews are mixed.
While the natural additive did help reduce levels of fat in the body, its overall effect is considered modest. In order for dextrin to really absorb enough fat to cause a considerate weight loss, chances are its adverse effects—like frequent diarrhea, gas, and bloating—would be overwhelming.
However, dextrin did offer other health benefits, described in a study published in the Journal of Endocrinology
that claims it “improved glucose tolerance in lab mice [and therefore prevented their obesity].”