Many of you have probably been aware, for years, of the ubiquitous (and sometimes questionable) ads for weight-loss teas. These inevitably prove to be ads for just oolong or green tea that the particular person or company is marketing as being uniquely, and significantly, able to help people lose weight. Due to my own skepticism about these claims some time ago, I decided to investigate them and wrote an article about my findings that, to my surprise, concluded that tea does have some physiological effects on the body that would make it a good addition to a comprehensive weight-loss program.
Today I am writing to update you on some new research reporting on the anti-obesity effects of white tea. This new research on white tea, which looks at different mechanisms of action from previous research with green or oolong teas, was conducted by the research arm of Beiersdorf, AG, a multinational German company that develops, produces, and markets personal care and healthcare products.
Researchers from Beiersdorf used preadipocytes, cells that aren’t yet fully developed fat cells, to test white tea’s ability to prevent or interfere with the full development of fat cells. This was an in-vitro study (in the lab) that used a white tea extract in which to bathe the pre-fat cells. They looked at the development of new fat cells, the accumulation of fat and triglyceride build-up in the cells, and whether the white tea could effect the breakdown of fat.
Their results concluded that the white tea solution that the fat cells were bathed in did, in fact, have significant effects on the fat cells. They found that white tea significantly reduced the amount of preadipocytes that differentiated into fat cells, reduced the amount of triglycerides accumulating in the fat cells, and stimulated lipolysis, which is the process that breaks down fat into its component parts. In addition, they determined that some of these effects appeared to be triggered more by the presence of EGCG, and others, like the effects on triglyceride accumulation in the cell, appeared to be triggered more by the methylxanthines (caffeine and theobromine) present in the white tea.
In conclusion, it is important to keep a few things in mind. First, this was conducted by a large multinational corporation, which obviously has incentives to find benefits in the ingredients they use in their products. Next, we need to keep in mind that this study was done in the laboratory using isolated fat cells and a concentrated form of white tea. Although this study points to some specific mechanisms of action by which tea can be beneficial for weight loss/management, we must be cautious in assuming that the same effects would occur in the more complex environment of the human body when consuming brewed tea. Nonetheless, the continued accumulation of data pointing to tea’s possible role in weight management, along with all of the growing body of research on the myriad other health benefits of tea, certainly suggest that it would be worthwhile for people to include it as an important part of a regular weight loss/management program. Given the different mechanisms involved based on the tea, I would recommend drinking a variety of teas.