We’re bombarded with products promising wonders. I’d love to believe I can burn 200 calories by drinking a can of fizz. But guess what we found? The old adage rings true – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
This month in Which? we looked at a range of ‘functional’ drinks, which offer additional benefits, over and above their nutritional qualities. They are all widely available on the market, so we wanted to assess the claims they make.
The drink mentioned above, Aspire, calls itself a calorie burning soft drink and claims you can burn over 200 calories by drinking a can. However when we contacted the company and the lab for the data that this figure is based on it transpired the calorie loss isn’t, arguably, as impressive as implied.
Our bodies burn calories all the time even when we’re resting and compared with a placebo the subjects in the trial burned an extra 27 calories over 3 hours when they drank Aspire – not as impressive as the ‘over 200 calories’ suggests.
Rejecting health claims on drinks
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has been assessing health claims on foods and drinks since 2008. Manufacturers submit the evidence on which their claim is based and it’s assessed by an independent panel. In fact, so far around 80% of submitted claims have been rejected.
Take probiotic drinks, like Yakult and Actimel, which claim to have digestive health benefits. One person’s daily dose of one of these shot drinks can add up to £126 to their shopping bill over the course of a year.
To date, general claims linking prebiotics and probiotics to improved digestive health, gut function and intestinal flora have all been rejected by EFSA. As a result, many brands have started to change their advertising. Gone are the claims of ‘helps your digestive tract’, but the unproven claims of these stronger, earlier adverts stick in many people’s minds.
Do you swallow health claims on drinks?
Many other rejected claims are those that the public has come to accept as fact over the years – for example cranberry juice helps treat urinary tract infections.
Once a list of approved health claims is released in 2012, manufacturers will have six months to remove the rejected claims from their packaging. But in the meantime we are still faced with claims that may be unproven.
Do you buy ‘functional’ drinks like these? Or are you suspicious of many of the claims that you are faced with?