Certain drinks could slash risk of diabetes and obesity

Type 2 diabetes can be a 'devastating diagnosis' says expert

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Type 2 diabetes and obesity are conditions that are often linked. If someone is obese or overweight they are at increased risk for diabetes – with around 80 percent of type 2 diabetes cases thought to be caused by a person’s weight. Therefore, losing weight can help lower your risk of diabetes and, in some cases, even put it in remission.

But a new study has found that a certain type of drink could help lower the risk of both obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Research published in BMJ Medicine revealed that a high blood caffeine level might curb the amount of body fat a person carries and their risk of type 2 diabetes.

As a result of these findings, the potential role of calorie free caffeinated drinks for lowering the risks of obesity and type 2 diabetes is worth exploring, researchers have said.

It comes as previously published research has indicated that drinking three to five cups of coffee, a rich source of caffeine, every day is associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

However, these studies have not separated any specific effects of caffeine from the other compounds included in caffeinated drinks and foods, the researchers warned.

In order to overcome this, the researchers used Mendelian randomisation to find out what effect higher blood caffeine levels have on body fat and the long term risks of type 2 diabetes as well as cardiovascular disease.

Mendelian randomisation is a technique that uses genetic variants to stand in for a particular risk factor – in this case blood levels of caffeine – to obtain genetic evidence in support of a particular outcome – in this study, weight (BMI) and type 2 diabetes risk.

The researchers, from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, studied the role of two common genetic variants of the CYP1A2 and AHR genes in nearly 10,000 people.

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The CYP1A2 and AHR genes are associated with the speed of caffeine metabolism in the body.

Those who carry genetic variants associated with slower caffeine metabolism drink, on average, less coffee, yet have higher levels of caffeine in their blood than people who metabolise it quickly to reach or retain the levels required for its stimulant effects.

The results showed that higher genetically predicted blood caffeine levels were associated with lower weight (BMI) and body fat.

Higher genetically predicted blood caffeine levels were also associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

The Stockholm team then used Mendelian randomisation to further explore the extent to which any effect of caffeine on type 2 diabetes risk might principally be driven by the concurrent weight loss.

Results showed that weight loss drove nearly half (43 percent) of the effect of caffeine on type 2 diabetes risk.

But no strong associations emerged between genetically predicted blood caffeine levels and the risk of any of the studied cardiovascular disease outcomes.

The study says: “Our Mendelian randomisation finding suggests that caffeine might, at least in part, explain the inverse association between coffee consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes.

“Randomised controlled trials are warranted to assess whether non-caloric caffeine containing beverages might play a role in reducing the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes.”

The researchers noted that a daily intake of 100 mg of caffeine has been estimated to increase energy expenditure by around 100 calories a day, which could consequently lower the risk of developing obesity.

However, the team acknowledged various limitations to their findings, including the use of only two genetic variants, and the inclusion of only people of European ancestry.

Drinks that contain caffeine include:

  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Fizzy drinks
  • Hot chocolate
  • Energy drinks.

But to see the benefits as reported in the study, sugar or calorie free caffeinated drinks should be consumed.

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