- Online media company HK01 published an article on its health information Facebook page “01 Health” that questioned: “Can drinking Chinese hawthorn tea drastically reduce elephant thighs and fat hips?” The post shared a link to an article on HK01’s website with the headline, “The Tea for You to Say Goodbye to Elephant Thighs and Fat Hips.” The article claims a therapy of Chinese hawthorn tea can reduce fat in thighs and hips.
- Some research has shown that hawthorn may lower blood pressure and blood lipids. In response to our inquiry, an assistant professor of practice in the Clinical Division of HKBU’s School of Chinese Medicine, who also is a registered Chinese medicine practitioner in Hong Kong, said the weight-reduction effect of Chinese hawthorn depends on its usage with other medicine. In her opinion, the tea suggested in the article may have a slight weight reduction effect, but not for the reduction of fat only in specific parts of the body. This tea is not suitable for all body types.
- Furthermore, other research has determined that reduction of fat only in specific parts of the body is not possible. Therefore, a Chinese hawthorn tea therapy cannot reduce fat only in the thighs and hips.
- Therefore, the claim that “Drinking Chinese hawthorn tea can reduce fat in thighs and hips.” is rated FALSE
On Feb. 22, 2021, an article posted on the Facebook page 01 Health questioned: “Can drinking Chinese hawthorn tea drastically reduce elephant thighs and fat hips?” The post also contained a link to a report from HK01 with the headline “Weight Loss – Super Difficult to Reduce Thick Thighs and Lower Body Fat? Four Must-Read Tricks Including Drinking Chinese Hawthorn Tea and Soaking Feet with Chinese Mugwort Water to See an Outcome in One Month.”
The original article was published on Taiwanese news website ETtoday and was republished by HK01 on its health page on Feb. 21, 2021. In the article, Taiwanese YouTuber Boss 77 (in Chinese: 77老大) said there are “four simple and super practical tips to lift and firm up the sagging lower body of excessive fat in just one month.” The tips included drinking “The Tea for You to Say Goodbye to Elephant Thighs and Fat Hips,” which contains five grams of Chinese hawthorn. The article claimed it is necessary to boil a tea bag of “The Tea for You to Say Goodbye to Elephant Thighs and Fat Hips” in 600 millilitres of water for 10 minutes, or to steep it in a thermos for 30 minutes. Drinking the hawthorn tea two to three times a week for a month, the article said, would “amazingly reduce” excessive fat in the thighs.
The post had been shared 56 times, with 48 likes or mood responses before this report was issued.
The claim questions: Is it true that “drinking hawthorn tea can reduce fat in thighs and hips”?
According to the Chinese Medicinal Material Images Database by HKBU’s School of Chinese Medicine, the mature fruit of Chinese hawthorn does help in “digesting food and promoting the stomach” and “moving qi and dispersing stasis.” It also can be used for: dyspeptic disease due to “overconsumption of meat,” abdominal swelling, abdominal pain due to dysentery, blood stasis and amenorrhea, blood stasis postpartum, chest pain, hernia pain, and hyperlipidemia.
In a March 9, 2021, email reply to the HKBU FactCheck Service, Dr. Chin Wing Yee, an assistant professor of practice in the Clinical Division of HKBU’s School of Chinese Medicine and a registered Chinese medicine practitioner in Hong Kong, wrote that Chinese hawthorn is a commonly used Chinese digestive medicine for treating dyspeptic disease due to “over consumption of meat,” and it helps protect the spleen and stomach. Modern pharmacological studies claim that Chinese hawthorn can lower blood lipids. For medicinal purposes, the main use of Chinese hawthorn is to improve digestion, as well as lower blood lipids.
“As for weight reduction, the use of Chinese hawthorn depends on its usage together with other medicine in the prescription,” Dr. Chin explained. As for other Chinese medicine, Dr. Chin said Ma-yuen Job’s tears seed is used to treat edema – building up of fluid in the body’s tissue – and can help to slightly reduce weight. Hindu lotus leaf is used to treat fever and relieve heat in the hot summer days. Other research claims Hindu lotus leaf can lower the absorption of fat, so it is often used in food therapy.
When referring to “The Tea for You to Say Goodbye to Elephant Thighs and Fat Hips” mentioned in the article, Dr. Chin said, “On the whole, this tea should have a slight weight reduction effect, but it does not target a specific part of the body. And whether this tea is suitable for everyone depends on the individual’s body type. Individuals with a weak physique, a weak spleen, and deficiency of qi should not take it for long term use.”
According to a 2018 article published by Ming Pao, Dr. Chan Man, a registered Chinese medicine practitioner at the Hong Kong Chinese Medicine Centre, said Chinese hawthorn is effective in lowering blood pressure and blood lipids, but it is not suitable for everyone. It may cause stomach discomfort if taken for a long time, he said. In particular, he said Chinese hawthorn should not be taken with supplementary medicine, including donkey-hide gelatin, radix astragali, pilose asiabell root and pseudostellaria leaves.
The post on the HK01 Facebook page claims the treatment can reduce fat only in specific parts of the body – called “spot reduction” – and in this case primarily hips and thighs. The American Council on Exercise published an article claiming “spot reduction” is a “myth” with no proven scientific or medical evidence. “Fat does get released from fat cells for energy,” the article claims. “Unfortunately, the systems responsible for this process do not take into consideration the parts of the body you would most like the fat to be drawn from.”
Furthermore, Todd Miller, a professor of nutrition and exercise sciences at George Washington University, told the Washington Post in an interview that research has shown “spot reduction” is not possible. “Fat in your body is like gas in your gas tank. Thinking you can reduce fat from your stomach alone is like saying you want to use gas only from the right side of your gas tank,” Miller was quoted in the article. “Fat, just like gas in your car, is stored energy. It gets recruited equally from all over your body and sent to the muscles to be burned.”
According to some research, Chinese hawthorn may help lower blood pressure and blood lipids, but its effect on weight reduction depends on its use with other medication. Furthermore, “spot reduction” of fat in certain body areas is not possible and no specific remedies can reduce fat only in the thighs and hips. It is therefore incorrect to claim, “drinking Chinese hawthorn tea can reduce fat in the thighs and hips.”
We rate the claim as FALSE.
- Facebook page “01Health”
- Facebook page “01 Health” post, February 22, 2021
- HK01, “Weight Loss – Super Difficult to Reduce Thick Thighs and Lower Body Fat? Four Must-Read Tricks Including Drinking Hawthorn Tea and Soaking Feet with Chinese Mugwort Water to See an Outcome in One Month,” February 21, 2021
- ETtoday, “Super Difficult to Reduce Thick Thigh and Fat Hip! He Recommends Four Must Read Tricks to Work in One Month. 250 Thousand Netizens Super Happy,” February 17, 2021
- Chinese Medicinal Material Images Database of the School of Chinese Medicine of Hong Kong Baptist University, “Chinese Hawthorn”
- Ming Pao, “Chinese Medicine Therapy: Chinese Hawthorn Lowers Blood Pressure and Lipids, but Individuals with Weak Stomach and Diabetes Should Avoid,” March 20, 2018
- American Council on Exercise, “Myths and Misconceptions: Spot Reduction and Feeling the Burn,” November 25, 2013
- Washington Post, “Why spot reduction doesn’t work,” April 17, 2018