Weight management drinks have grown 24% to 570m litres in 2006 across Western Europe, the US and Japan.

According to the drinks consultancy company Zenith International these sales equate to a retail value of EUR1,304m and was driven by recent launches of enhanced waters and fat burning drinks.

"Advances in weight management ingredients have allowed beverage manufactures to develop and introduce new products aimed at the significant number of consumers anxious about their body shape and weight," said Zenith research director Gary Roethenbaugh. "Greater concerns over obesity levels and conflicting views about functionality claims have generated increasing media interest, which has helped propel these drinks into the consumer spotlight."

Zenith said that Japan is by far the largest of the three markets, witnessing strong double figure growth in 2006, with West Europe experiencing year on year progress of around 33%, albeit from a low base.The US is achieving growth of some 28%.

"Major beverage companies, including Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, are now active in the weight management drinks arena. This is likely to push further growth as new products benefit from stronger distribution networks," added Roethenbaugh. "However, controversy has followed some high profile launches, as lobbyists and journalists scrutinise the efficacy of new propositions.  Weight management drink companies need to ensure that advertising and marketing claims are proportionate, in line with good medical and dietary practice and do not overstate the science."

Sales of weight management drinks across the markets of West Europe, the US and Japan are projected to double by 2011, with a retail value exceeding EUR3,000m.