An additive that claims to help people lose weight is set to be used in food and drinks for the first time, The (London) Sunday Telegraph reported.

Tokyo-based food company Ajinomoto wants to use an extract from chilli peppers that makes the body burn more calories in a range of foods including desserts, confectionery, cereals and drinks.

The extract called dihydrocapsiate [DHC] is a chemical compound that boosts the body's metabolism, and is already sold in the U.S. and Japan in the form of diet supplement pills.

"Most weight management aids focus on caloric intake. Capsinoids are unique in targeting the other side of the equation, the caloric output. DHC is not positioned as a 'magic bullet,' rather, it should be used as one piece of the overall weight management equation," said Ajinomoto spokeswoman Naoko Obara said.

The product has been approved as safe by Britain's Food Standards Agency [FSA] which said studies have shown that DHC can increase the burning of body fat and overall calorie expenditure.

The European Commission will now have to rule on whether the chemical compound can be used as a food additive, although it generally follows the approach taken by the FSA.

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