If this actually worked, it would be a junk-food lover's dieting dream: Tuesday in Japan, PepsiCo will release Pepsi Special, a “fat-blocking” soda with added fiber. Imagine it: you could pull up to the fast-food drive through, order a double cheeseburger and large fries, and not worry about the fat in the food because your soda would block it. Heck, go ahead and throw a few hunks of bacon on the burger. The soda will cancel it out.
Somehow, I don’t think it’s going to work that way, but I’m betting PepsiCo is hoping that consumers believe it will.
The soda will have added dextrin, a fiber-rich starch that can be made from corn, potato, arrowroot, rice, tapioca or wheat. I remember several years ago when Weight Watchers put a high emphasis on the fiber content of a food and high fiber foods usually received lower points, meaning you could eat larger portions of them. Someone asked our leader why we couldn’t just sprinkle a fiber supplement in a milkshake to lower the points it had. The leader said something about foods that were naturally high in fiber were also usually naturally healthy, too, and that it was better to use real food to help with weight loss, not food with additives. The milkshake would still have the calories and fat, and even if adding fiber to it made a bit of a difference, it would give people a false sense that they could drink all the milkshakes they wanted as long as they dumped a few tablespoons of Benefiber in them.
Adding fiber to your daily diet is a good idea, but adding fiber to your diet through a sugar-laden, empty calorie drink isn’t. The Atlantic called adding fiber to soda and calling it healthy "insidious" because it could lead many people to drink more soda — and any health benefits from the added fiber would be negated. That’s exactly what my Weight Watchers' leader was saying, too.
If Pepsi Special ends up being popular in Japan, you know it won’t be long before it comes to the United States. When they do, skip the “fat-blocking cola” and reach for foods that are naturally high in fiber — beans, whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables. Wash them down with water and get some real health benefits from your fiber.
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