New 'Slurpee Lite' will cut calories and sugar

May 15, 2012, 4:06 p.m.

The sugar-free mango version of the new Slurpee Lite, which will debut May 23. (Credit: 7-Eleven)

South L.A. has a lot of convenience stores, and where there are convenience stores, there are 7-Elevens.

And soon, where there are 7-Elevens there will be the new low-calorie Slurpee Lite.

Offered in diet-friendly flavors like sugar-free mango and sugar-free cherry limeade, the new version of the popular slushy will target women in their 20s, according to TIME, and have 50 percent fewer calories than regular Slurpees.

The new drinks will debut on May 23 on what 7-Eleven is calling "SlurpFree Day," where consumers will be able to taste the sugar-free mango flavor from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., in 7.11-ounce servings. (The event's Facebook page also refers to the new Slurpees as "cool, refreshing glory juice.")

But the glory juice, which is flavored with sugar-free Fanta, may be in for a poor reception. The artificial sweetener in the Slurpee Lites, for instance, has been found to give rats diarrhea in the lab, which may put a damper on the whole health-conscious feel the chain is going for with these drinks.

Another potential issue: its color. The neon shade of the new (as well as traditional) Slurpees falls under "artificial food colors," which has been linked to hyperactivity in kids, something of which parents aren't the biggest fans.

Finally, there's the calorie-saving: Sure, it's got less calories (20 in the eight-ounce version) than a regular Slurpee (66 in eight ounces) – but not that much less.

Also, says a professor of medicine from George Washington University, it's not like Slurpees had a whole lot of health benefits waiting to happen anyway.

"Now it's just a different kind of junk food," Neal Barnard told USA Today. "This should be not mistaken as any kind of corporate responsibility. They're just trying to sell you the same stuff in a different package.

"Slurpee had zero nutritional value then," he added, "and it has zero nutritional value now."

Sugary drinks have been found to be a major factor in causing or exacerbating obesity and related health problems.

In addition to sugar-free cherry limeade, a sugar-free strawberry banana option is set to hit 7-Elevens this July.

Photo by 7-Eleven. Used with permission.

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