Pepsi Special is infused with indigestible dextrin, a synthetic dietary fiber. Even though dextrin has not been proven to have dietary benefits for humans, it has been successfully tested on rats. Which, apparently, is good enough for Pepsi and the Japanese government, which has formally backed the soda manufacturer's claims.
The Japanese Ministry of Health says products carrying its FOSHU label are "intended to be consumed for the maintenance/promotion of health or special health uses by people who wish to control health conditions, including blood pressure or blood cholesterol."
In order to received the FOSHU seal, products must meet the following requirements:
- Effectiveness on the human body is clearly proven
- Absence of any safety issues (animal toxicity tests, confirmation of effects in the cases of excess intake, etc.)
- Use of nutritionally appropriate ingredients (e.g., no excessive use of salt, etc.)
- Guarantee of compatibility with product specifications by the time of consumption
- Established quality control methods, such as specifications of products and ingredients, processes and methods of analysis
The average American drinks 44.7 gallons of soda per year, according to 2010 statistics from the Beverage Marketing Corporation. That's actually down from 51.5 gallons in 2005. So, it's easy to see how consumers could be tempted by the idea of drinking a soda that actually helps them lose weight.
But don't get your hopes up just yet.
"It's true that naturally occurring soluble fiber that's present in oats, barley, cruciferous vegetables and the stuff in seeds and the skin of apples does help block cholesterol absorption," Melina Jampolis, a physician nutrition specialist and CCNhealth expert, told Forbes. "But there's no publicly available evidence suggesting that synthetic fibers do this, too."
Pepsi Special is reportedly being marketed primarily at young Japanese men and comes packaged in a black and gold plastic bottle. And as Forbes notes, this isn't the first "fat-blocking soda" to be unveiled in Japan. Beer manufacturer Kirin launched its own fiber-infused soda earlier in 2012.
Suntory, which distributes Pepsi products in Japan, doesn't stop with the weight loss claims. On its website announcing the launch of Pepsi Special, it also claims the soda can "calm the postprandial rise in triglycerides in the blood."