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Green tea for weight loss and weight maintenance in overweight or obese adults

Jurgens TM, Whelan AM, Killian L, Doucette S, Kirk S, Foy E
Published Online: 
12 December 2012

Green tea has a long history of many uses, one of which is helping overweight people to lose weight and to maintain weight loss. Believed to be able to increase a person's energy output, green tea weight loss preparations are extracts of green tea that contain a higher concentration of ingredients (catechins and caffeine) than the typical green tea beverage prepared from a tea bag and boiling water. This review looked at 15 weight loss studies and three studies measuring weight maintenance where some form of a green tea preparation was given to one group and results compared to a group receiving a control. Neither group knew whether they were receiving the green tea preparation or the control. A total of 1945 participants completed the studies, ranging in length from 12 to 13 weeks. In summary, the loss in weight in adults who had taken a green tea preparation was statistically not significant, was very small and is not likely to be clinically important. Similar results were found in studies that used other ways to measure loss in weight (body mass index, waist circumference). Studies examining the effect of green tea preparations on weight maintenance did not show any benefit compared to the use of a control preparation.

Most adverse effects, such as nausea, constipation, abdominal discomfort and increased blood pressure, were judged to be mild to moderate and to be unrelated to the green tea or control intervention. No deaths were reported, although adverse events required hospitalisation. One study attempted to look at health-related quality of life by asking participants about their attitudes towards eating. Nine studies tracked participants' compliance with green tea preparations. Studies did not include any information about the effects of green tea preparations on morbidity, costs or patient satisfaction.