New research from China has found that regular consumption of green tea - which is rich in naturally-occurring tea actives called catechins - can significantly and positively effect body composition in moderately overweight individuals.

The 90-day trial, conducted at Fudan University, in Shanghai, China, and funded by the Lipton Institute of Tea, supports existing evidence that green tea has a significant beneficial effect on body composition in Asian populations.

This new investigation monitored the effects of green tea consumption on body weight, body fat mass, as well as the distribution of fat. 182 moderately overweight Chinese subjects, aged between 18 and 55, were divided into four groups, with each group allocated a regular dose of green tea containing a different quantity of catechins. Amounts consumed ranged from 30mg to almost 900mg; an average cup of green tea contains between 50 to 100mg of catechins.

Participants in the study drank their designated tea divided in two daily doses. On days zero, 30, 60 and 90, measurements of body composition were taken to assess the effects that the prescribed tea had on body mass and fat.

The results showed that, relative to the control group consuming no green tea catechins, body weight, waist circumference, intra-abdominal fat and the total lean mass all decreased after 90 days in the group that drank the tea with the highest concentration of catechins. The authors concluded that regular consumption of green tea with very high catechin content can, over a 90-day period, significantly reduce body weight, body fat mass and waist size in moderately overweight Chinese individuals.

Dr Niels Boon, the research scientist at the Lipton Institute of Tea who led the research programme, explained: "This latest research demonstrates that commercially available green tea can have a very real - and positive - effect on weight loss and body shape. During the investigation, participants drank green tea that contained as many catechins as found in between six to ten regular cups of green tea.

"Using state-of-the-art measurement techniques, we analysed the effect of the green tea consumption on body fatness and the distribution of fat across the body. We observed significant decreases in body weight and fat mass. These effects were more pronounced in the group consuming the highest amount of catechins and the results also indicate that the effects are particularly strong on fat located in the abdominal region. In addition, they did not consume any other beverages containing catechins or caffeine during the intervention period - so we can be confident that the effects seen are a consequence of the green tea intervention."

Dr Paul Quinlan, Research Director at the Lipton Institute of Tea, added: "Our work on tea continues to reveal new and compelling health benefits associated with drinking tea. The effects of green tea on body shape and composition in Asian populations is well documented, although more research is needed to determine whether the same effects occur in other populations.

"We are proud to be able to put the Lipton Institute of Tea's name to this piece of break-through research and look forward to furthering our knowledge of tea's other as yet uncharted health benefits."

The original research paper, Effects of catechin enriched green tea on body composition, has just been published in Obesity.

Lipton Institute of Tea