Calorie-burning drink: Too good to be true?

NEW YORK - Health experts Friday dismissed claims that a new green tea-based drink that claims to burn calories by speeding up the drinker’s metabolic rate would help people lose weight.

Beverage giant Coca-Cola Co. unveiled plans on Thursday to start selling Enviga, a sparkling, caffeinated soft drink, claiming that consuming three 12-ounce cans over 24 hours could burn off between 60 to 100 calories.

Coke has developed the drink, which will come in three flavors — green tea, berry and peach —in partnership with Swiss food giant Nestle SA.

But Marion Nestle, a nutrition professor at New York University, said the claims were based on a research study that was in experimental stages with no proof this drink would help normal people under normal conditions burn calories.

“The idea that this drink will help people lose weight is just ridiculous,” Nestle told Reuters. “It is an example of the lengths to which companies will go to sell products.”

Atlanta-based Coca-Cola said Enviga contained green tea extracts, calcium, and caffeine. The product will go on sale in the U.S. northeast in November and roll out nationally in January.

A spokeswoman said the Nestle Research Center in Lausanne, Switzerland, studied the benefits of green tea for decades as part of its global tea business.

A recent study by the center conducted with the University of Lausanne revealed that consuming the equivalent of three cans of Enviga a day boosted calorie burning by speeding up the metabolism and increasing energy use.

Studies showed that healthy subjects in the lean to normal weight range could burn up an extra 60 to 100 calories a day.

“Enviga contains the optimum blend of green tea extracts, caffeine and naturally active plant micronutrients designed to work with your body to increase calorie burning, thus creating a negative calorie effect,” Rhona Applebaum, Coca-Cola’s chief scientist, said in a statement.

Lona Sandon, national spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, said the high mix of caffeine and green tea could possibly raise people’s metabolic rate and burn a few extra calories, but it would not lead to any weight loss.

“We are kidding ourselves if we think we can drink this and melt the pounds away. These companies are just playing on people’s desires for a quick fix for weight loss,” Sandon said.

“This won’t make up for a poor diet and lack of exercise and this amount of caffeine could even cause problems for people who are sensitive to caffeine.”