How skinny do you want your side order of water, ma'am?

Water is, I think we're all in general agreement, a good thing for our bodies. You don't drink it and you become dehydrated, which leads to a variety of problems. It helps rehydrate and, without getting too technical, helps keep our bodies ticking over. Given that we're largely made of water, drinking a decent amount of water every day is largely considered A Good Thing. There are many things I use water for. Losing weight isn't one of them.

But then I don't drink Skinny Water.

Given that there's not a lot to choose between different bottles of water, other than packaging and price, it's not surprising that the brand marketing people are looking for new angles to sell their water, and we shouldn't begrudge them that. It's their job. But this one really is really something special.

Right now there's somebody, somewhere, laughing all the way to the bank because they've essentially sold ice cubes to a bunch of Eskimos: the idea that you can lose weight by drinking a specific brand of water.

Skinny Water describes itself as "a low-calorie water". Which is impressive as water doesn't actually have any calories. Water's good for many things, but calories aren't one of them.

However, flavoured water does contain calories, and most likely sugar. Skinny Water's website says it has a hint of pomegranate in it, so it's a good bet that there's a bit of sugar and flavourings in here. These may compare well to other flavoured waters on the market but not as well as standard water. Because standard, non-flavoured water has no calories.

It's highly dubious that drinking water, or Skinny Water, will actually make you slimmer. It's not going to hurt to keep yourself well hydrated and to swap your Coca-Cola for a jug of tap water. But just drinking water alone won't change a great deal.

Drinking water, regular exercise and eating a healthy diet are probably your best bets if you want to lose weight. Running's a good start. You can refresh yourself with tap water. And that'll be just as good for you AND will cost less than a bottle of Skinny Water.

But then normal water doesn't have special science behind it, namely a special blend of chromium and L-Carnitine, which Skinny Water has. According to the blurb on the website these "assists natural fat burning and helps reduce sugar cravings".

If Skinny Water contains sugar (and I can't find a list of ingredients on their website) then it's hardly surprising if it reduces sugar cravings.

The fat burning issue is slightly more complex, and sounds impressive but that's about all it is, really. If you click on the Now Magazine coverage in their press section, you'll see that the 'expert view' says Chromium Deficiency can cause poor glucose tolerance, which in turn can lead to obesity.

Except chromium deficiency is incredibly rare. There have been three clear cases (PDF) in hospital patients who were fed a very specific diet over a period of time. Other than that, it's highly unlikely the average person would develop deficiency, although it's possible it may help with type two diabetes and that's still under debate. It does appear as a trace element in the human body and we do need it, although nobody's exactly sure why.

L-Carnitine is used to transport fatty acids when your body breaks down the fats, so yes, it well help. But if you're eating a varied diet you're going to get plenty of it anyway.  Beef, pork, chicken, dairy, and bread all contain L-Carnitine.

But after a certain level of L-Carnitine, it stops being effective and slows down the breakup of fats. So, in basic terms, you'll probably put on weight if you have it in excess as the fats won't get broken down as quickly.

It's also sold as a weight-loss supplement although there's no conclusive evidence that it has any effect in this regard. There's been plenty of studies into L-Carnitine's and athletic performance. Again, there's nothing conclusive to say it has any effect during exercise.

But then it also stops you feeling hungry. In all honesty, if I drank the ten bottles in recommends, I'd probably feel a bit bloated.

The website says there are plenty of scientific studies around L-Carnitine and chromium, which is true. It doesn't say what results these studies came up with. It also says they're FDA approved. Given that neither are going to do you much damage (unless you accidentally take the toxic kind of chromium) that's hardly surprising either. It doesn't make it that special.

Like I say, I've nothing against the marketing people who sell bottled water. It's when you start to move into making some rather ridiculous claims about weight loss that I start getting a bit more irritated.

Somewhere out there there's going to be impressionable teenagers who'll think that because Jennifer Aniston drinks Skinny Water to keep slim, that drinking water will be the way to stay slim. Or there'll be some idiot who'll view it as a way to lose weight.

Yes, if you drink nothing but water, Skinny or otherwise, you'll lose weight. There's also a chance you'll kill yourself.

Water's good for you, yes. But you can rehydrate a lot easier and cheaper than Skinny Water with tap water and the effects will, I'd wager, be roughly the same.

My favourite bit about Skinny Water is the endorsement from pop singer Fergie, from the Black Eyed Peas:

"At the moment I’m drinking Skinny Water. With a name like that it has to be good, right?"

You really wonder why nobody else has cottoned onto this. Just add Skinny to the name and hey-presto, it's good for you, especially the McSkinny Big Mac Burger. Still, if Fergie wants to waste her money on this, that's fine by me.

I'm going to try and make my fortune through a bit of reverse psychology though. I'm calling something Skinny works so well, I'm going to market the Fat Bastard Banana. It's like a normal banana, except we only sell the biggest bananas we can find. It'll be sold to far people who hate diets, so they can scoff bananas in the knowledge that it's sticking one to the system.

(If you're wondering, there's no real reason why I've decided to post this, other than I saw Sian had blogged about it and it got me a bit irritated)