A food manufacturer claims its has found an extract from the chilli pepper that makes the body burn more calories and now wants to add it to a range of everyday foods, including desserts, confectionary, baking and cereals.
The "unique" weight management aid has been approved as safe by Britain’s food watchdog and, subject to further tests by EU officials, will be offered to slimmers.
The extract, dihydrocapsiate (DHC), is already sold in the US and Japan in the form of diet supplement pills. But this would be the first time DHC has been used as a food additive.
The list of foods which the company wants to target for the new weight loss aid includes "baked goods, beverages, confectionery, cereals and desserts", according to a document sent to the Food Standards Agency (FSA).
It is one of several chemical compounds known as capsinoids found in a particular variety of chilli, called CH-19 sweet.
They up the body’s metabolism – helping to burn more calories – and has no taste or odour.
Unlike similar extracts in other varieties of chilli, DHC does not cause the burning sensation of hot peppers such as jalapeños or the Scotch bonnet, the tiny and ultra-hot chilli which is an ingredient in jerk chicken.
Ajinomoto plans to produce DHC synthetically because chilli peppers only produce small amounts of it.
The Tokyo-based company claimed that DHC was "unique" among weight management aids.
"Most weight management aids focus on caloric intake," Naoko Obara, a company spokeswoman, said.
"Capsinoids are unique in targeting the other side of the equation, the caloric output," said "Increasing the body’s metabolism to burn more calories can be as important to weight management as diet and exercise.