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Double-Duty Drinks
Enhanced beverages make big splash in market

Whether the goal is losing weight, gaining energy or improving health, there's a liquid concoction on the market to quell most any buyer's thirst.

Last month, Reuters news service reported an increased demand for healthier drinks from consumers wanting beverages that are lower in carbohydrates and calories - and some beverage companies say they're listening.

The drinks may have different packaging, tastes and ingredients, but they share one thing, say spokespeople for the companies that make them: customers want them.

Don McDonald, CEO and president of Skinny Nutritional Corp., said it's a prime market for drinks like his company's appetite-suppressing choice, Skinny Water.

The clear, fruit-flavored beverage is made with the company's own appetite suppressants, Super CitriMax and ChormeMate, and is marketed as a drink to aid dieters in their weight-loss efforts.

McDonald said researchers at Georgetown University found Skinny Water's active ingredients helped dieters lose three times more weight than diet and exercise alone.

"We're very happy with the response of the product and we're looking forward to getting (Skinny Water) into more people's hands," McDonald said.

The water joined other enhanced beverages on Target store shelves in June.

In addition to weight-loss aids like Skinny Water, customers are likely to stumble upon some form of energy drink when walking down

grocery aisles.

The Organic Beverage Company offers an organic, low-glycemic index energy drink called Syzmo, available in three flavors.

The company says Syzmo is different from others in the energy drink category. With just under 100 calories, the carbonated beverage touts ingredients like organic caffeine, blue agave nectar and a slew of vitamins, including vitamins B2, B6 and B12, plus calcium and zinc.

Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Company joined the ranks of the enhanced drink market in April with Diet Coke Plus - a zero-calorie soft drink sweetened with Splenda and laced with vitamins and minerals.

While the sales figures for these drinks indicate they're popular, nutritionists and dietitians differ on whether they're worth the cost.

Lindsay Prehm, a registered dietitian working for Emory Eastside Medical Center in Snellville, said plain old water is still the best drink when it comes to both thirst and health.

"Honestly, I think it's a waste of money," Prehm said of the enhanced drinks. "I'd rather see you get vitamins through whole foods."

Prehm said it's important to make sure the ingredients in fortified drinks are approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

One group of people who could benefit from enhanced drinks, Prehm said, is athletes.

"Serious athletes can drink a Gatorade or something where you can replenish electrolytes," Prehm said. "But if you're just going for a walk, you don't need that."