Green tea has been discussed as a protective factor against obesity and weight gain, but the links are still unclear, and sometimes tenuous. One mechanism that has received attention has been metabolism. But how much evidence is there to support this?
NPR turned its attention to that question this week, noting the explosion of substances that contain green tea that are marketed for weight loss. The article raised important questions for our industry. How much can and should be said about potential health benefits in marketing strategies? And further, how do these claims, particularly those on shaky scientific ground, affect the industry’s long-term credibility?
The NPR team turned to Michael Jensen, a Mayo Clinic endocrinologist, who noted that the impacts shown so far on metabolism are unlikely to have a dramatic or persistent effect. Many of these studies have been very small scale, while a larger meta-analysis showed that any impact on weight was short-lived, even as green tea consumption continued.
Does this mean green tea is no help in regards to metabolism? Not necessarily. Penn State scientists published a study in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research in late 2013 that showed that green tea consumption combined with exercise may actually have a true, persistent effect. (Green tea alone did not have the same effect.)
As always, it is wise to be specific and detailed in responding to questions about health. While we know tea can be part of a healthy lifestyle, take care not to promise a miracle.