London: Imagine having to eat a piece of chocolate or cake to lose weight – that`s right – sounds like it`s too good to be true.
But manufacturers claim to have discovered an ingredient derived from chilli peppers that could be added to any pudding or treat to make the red hot idea a reality.
Called dihydrocapsiate (DHC), it is tasteless and speeds up the body`s metabolism, helping it use up more calories, a newspaper reported.
It is one of several chemical compounds known as capsinoids found in a particular variety of chilli and is already sold in the form of diet supplement pills in the U.S. and Japan.
Now a Japanese food firm Ajinomoto has submitted plans to the Food Standards Agency watchdog with the aim of adding it to chocolate bars, desserts and ready meals targeted towards dieters.
The FSA has recently declared the extract safe.
However, dieticians say that eating the foods won`t really have any effect.
They claim that in reality, a person weighing 15 stone consuming the recommended portions of foods containing DHC would probably burn off only 50 extra calories a day – the equivalent of a digestive biscuit.
Ajinomoto plans to make the ingredient synthetically as only very small amounts can be derived from chilli peppers. Up to 3mg would be added to a portion of food – the amount of extract found in ten chillies.
The firm insisted it was not trying to claim people would be able to lose weight simply by eating their food.
It would have to be part of an overall healthy diet and active lifestyle to achieve results.
Tam Fry, of the National Obesity Forum, said it was a "very interesting idea."
"But as ever, the proof is in the pudding," he added.