'Healthier' Coca-Cola Life To Go On Sale In Britain - But What Exactly Is In It?

'Healthier' Coca-Cola Life To Go On Sale In Britain - But What's In It?

Coca-Cola are launching a 'healthier' version of their bestselling soft drink as part of Government and industry-wide efforts to tackle obesity.

The naturally-sweetened drink, which comes in a green can or bottle, contains less sugar and fewer calories than the original.

Coca-Cola Life will go on sale in Britain in September following a pilot in Argentina and Chile, making it the first new Coca-Cola since Zero was launched in 2006.

The new cola is sweetened with a blend of sugar and stevia leaf extract, and a 330ml can will contain 89 calories.

A regular 330ml can of Coca-Cola contains 35 grams of sugar, or 39% of an adult's GDA (guideline daily amount). Coca-Cola Life will contain 22.1 grams or 25% of an adult's GDA.

The two other Coca-Cola drinks, Zero and Diet Coke, contain no calories.

Stevia leaf extract is naturally sourced from the stevia plant, which is native to South America. Currently, Coca-Cola Great Britain uses stevia leaf extract as a sweetener in its Sprite and Glaceau vitaminwater brands.

Coca-Cola said the new cola was part of its commitments to offer consumers reduced, low and no-calorie options - adding that it was the "most recent example in a series of initiatives by the company to inspire happier, healthier lives".

The company is a signatory to the Government's Responsibility Deal, under which the food and drink industry has pledged to promote and healthier diet and make changes to their products, and Coca-Cola has committed to reduce the average calories per litre in its range of sparkling drinks by 5% by the end of 2014.

Other than introducing stevia extract to Sprite, it has launched smaller 250ml cans across the Coca-Cola portfolio and recently announced a £20 million anti-obesity fitness drive in 70 parks in Britain.

Early this year, a group of health experts launched a campaign to reduce the amount of sugar added to food and soft drinks as part of an effort to reverse the UK's obesity and diabetes crisis.

Action on Sugar said the food industry would easily achieve a 20% to 30% reduction in the amount of sugar added to products, which it said would result in a reduction of approximately 100kcal per day or more in those who are particularly prone to obesity.

It said the reduction could reverse or halt the obesity epidemic and would also have a significant impact in reducing chronic disease.

Coca-Cola Europe president James Quincey said: "We are pleased to add Coca-Cola Life to the Coca-Cola portfolio in the UK.

"It complements our existing brands and is well-positioned to meet changing lifestyle trends, providing people with a great-tasting, lower calorie cola sweetened from natural sources.

"With Coca-Cola Life, we have innovated to provide consumers with a new option with fewer calories. We were early signatories to the UK Government's Responsibility Deal and as we work with others across society to address the public health challenge of obesity in the UK and across Europe, we will continue to take actions that help people balance their lifestyles."

Coca-Cola Life will be available in a 330ml can, 500ml bottle and 1.75L bottle.

Tam Fry, of the National Obesity Forum and an adviser to Action on Sugar, said: "Coca-Cola's direction of travel should be applauded. Purists will inevitably decry the fact that two important features of the new brand - less sugar and less calories - haven't been bettered but it is reasonable that a third less in both is not insignificant.

"The trick that Coca-Cola has missed is significantly to reduce the price. That must happen if people are to believe that Coca-Cola's heart really is in making it easier to buy a healthier brand and not just maintaining its profit levels."