Can Pepsi's new soda really burn fat?

The Week's Editorial Staff
The Week
Pepsi Special, soon to be released in Japan, reportedly has a "crisp, refreshing, and unqiue" aftertaste, PepsiCo claims.

The beverage giant will release Pepsi Special, a new drink infused with dextrin, a fiber that has been shown to block fat pile-up

Diet cola is nothing new, but what about a soda that actually helps you drop weight? Over the weekend, PepsiCo unveiled a fat-blocking drink that it's set to release in Japan. The new beverage, Pepsi Special, contains a proven fat-fighting ingredient called dextrin and is intended to target the country's lucrative market of "young, health-conscious men," says Akito Fujita at ABC News. Here's what you need to know:

What is dextrin, exactly?
In the U.S. dextrin is sold as a supplement called Benefiber, which works by absorbing water as it moves through our intestines, says James Hamblin at The Atlantic. "That promotes movement of food through the bowel, and contraction of the bowel wall itself (bowel movement, if you will.)" The company plans on marketing the new beverage, which launches in Japan on Tuesday, explicitly as a fat-blocking health drink.

Does it really block fat?
It obviously remains to be seen just how effective Pepsi Special is at shrinking waistlines. But previous studies on rats showed that dextrin can reduce the absorption of fat in the body and helps lower cholesterol levels. Scientists have also found evidence that the soluble fiber helps regulate the digestive system, increases nutrient absorption, stabilizes glucose levels, and could even prevent a variety of other gastrointestinal disorders.

What does the beverage taste like?
The company, somewhat vaguely, says Pepsi Special will have a "crisp refreshing and unique" aftertaste. PepsiCo has a history of releasing odd soda flavors in Japan, including yogurt and cucumber varieties. This Christmas, for example, the company plans on introducing Pepsi White, which will be infused with tangy hints of tangerine.

Is this the first fat-burning soda… ever?
Not quite. Kirin, a beverage company known for its beer, released a similar dextrin-infused product called Mets Cola several months ago and the product has been doing quite well. 

Will Pepsi Special ever make it to the states?
"Japan's reputation as a country of thin people makes it a curious choice for an anti-fat-absorption drink, but perhaps it's just a test run before reaching out to the soda-slurping American market," says Amanda Kooser at CNET. "Of course, we can't help but wonder: What would Michael Bloomberg say?"

Sources: ABC News, The Atlantic, Cleveland Leader, CNET

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