A large number of fitness and health stars saturate their social media posts with product placements. From protein powders to gym attire, their influential followers are fed the myth that health is largely the result of buying and consuming expensive foodstuffs and equipment. A recent trend is the promotion of so-called “skinny teas” – teas that promise to contribute to weight loss, and thus, the rise of the so-called “tea-tox” was born.
But, as many nutritionists have been quick to point out, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Whilst some natural teas do possess metabolism-boosting properties – think oolong and green – the idea that drinking manufactured, overpriced beverages will make you “skinny” is a deliberate marketing ploy that buys into consumers insecurities concerning their body image. As personal trainer and blogger at The Fitrepreneur Sarah Anton puts it, “all skinny teas are created equal: they all do not work”. The damaging effects of skinny teas beyond their false claims to contribute to weight loss reveal a darker side of this fashionable diet fad.
The vast array of aesthetically pleasing photographs of modelesque women posing for Instagram, yoga mat and tea in hand, promotes the image that “skinny teas” are key to a healthy lifestyle. Indeed, Australian writer Sammi Taylor attributes the “enticing” fitspo culture to the readiness with which consumers have bought into the myth of skinny teas, despite us knowing deep down that these are merely scams wrapped in pretty packaging. Skinny teas can prove expensive, often packaged at around £20 for a 14-day cleanse. Certainly no student I know could afford to do this regularly. But more worryingly, as many doctors, nutritionists and dieticians have shown, the cost of these teas extends beyond the financial, as they can have a negative impact on our health. As well as being a cunning marketing ploy, there is evidence that the consumption of ‘skinny teas’ is inherently harmful.
Essentially, these teas are designed to aid the loss of water weight – the type of weight you certainly do not want to be losing. Dietician Jo Travers, head of The London Nutritionist, cautions that dehydration puts “a strain of internal organs including the brain (which is 20% water) leading to headaches, fatigue and poor concentration”. Moreover, many skinny teas contain laxatives, causing discomfort and strain on the gut and bowels. As a result, the body is at risk of losing its vital store of vitamins and minerals.
Also of great concern to young women, Cosmopolitan warned in 2015 that the popular skinny tea brand BooTea disclaims that consumption of the tea may lead to the ineffectiveness of the contraceptive pill. But vital information such as this can be hard to find, and many women consuming the teas are ignorant to its effect on fertility. BooTea claims that if you adjust the time you take your daily contraception, the effects of the tea on the accuracy of the pill are reduced. But why take the risk? Even if you aren’t on the pill, health blogger Tara Evans warns that many women have experienced irregular menstrual cycles and severe abdominal cramps as a result of drinking skinny teas – pain certainly not worth losing a couple of pounds
Perhaps most worrying is the fact that skinny teas aren’t required to prove any of the claims on their labels, as they are classified as dietary supplements, not foodstuffs, according to Blogilates. Consequently, there is no published research that validates the products’ claims to boost metabolism and aid weight loss. Essentially, we’re basing our consumption of these dangerous drinks off the word of influential celebrities who are paid to promote these products and profiteering companies. Fad diets have been proved time and time again to be ineffective, ensnaring us into a vicious cycle of rapid weight loss and gain. It’s time the myth of the effectiveness of skinny teas is put to rest, because we are at great risk of damaging our health for the sake of a few pounds.
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