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A coffee intake change from low to moderate reduces total body fat in metabolic syndrome

Coffee intake changes from low to moderate but not to a high intake could help weight loss in patients with metabolic syndrome

Changing coffee intake from low (< 3 cups/month) to moderate (1 – 7 cups/week) levels in patients with metabolic syndrome over a three year period, reduces total body fat levels and may help as part of a weight management strategy according to an analysis by US and Spanish researchers.

Coffee intake appears to be associated with a wide range of health benefits, so much so that coffee can be considered part of a healthful diet. Moreover, a 2019 meta-analysis concluded that caffeine intake might promote weight, body mass index and body fat reduction which is all the more important given how obesity is a global concern with a 2016 estimate that 1.9 billion adults were overweight and of whom, 650 million were obese. However, rather than total body fat, the distribution of that fat is often more relevant to health risks. For example, visceral adiposity is associated with incident cardiovascular disease and cancer after adjustment for clinical risk factors and generalised adiposity. Furthermore, in recent years, techniques such as dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) have been developed and provide a more accurate means of determining regional adiposity and thus cardiometabolic risk assessment.

In the current study, researchers used data collected from the ongoing PREMED-PLUS trial to assess the association between changes in caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee intake with concurrent changes in DXA-derived adiposity measures. The researchers assessed coffee intake as either low (< 3 cups/month), moderate (1- 7 cups/week) or high (> 1 cup/day) and this data was collected, together with DXA measurements, at baseline, after 6 and 12 months and then after 3 years.

Changes in Coffee intake and adiposity

A total of 1,483 participants with a a mean age of 65.3 years (47.5% women) were included in the study.

After adjustment for potential confounders, those whose coffee consumption increased from low to moderate (1 – 7 cups/week) were found to have a significantly lower total body fat level (Δ z-score of -0.06, p = 0.006) compared to those who maintained a low intake. In addition, trunk fat (-0.07, p = 0.009) and visceral adiposity tissue (-0.07, p = 0.029) were also significantly lowered. In contrast, increasing coffee intake to a higher level (> 1 cup/day) or any change with decaffeinated intake was not associated with changes in DXA measures.

The authors concluded that a small increase in coffee intake appeared to result in a significant reduction in measures of adiposity and may form part of a weight management strategy.

Henn M et al. Increase from low to moderate, but not high, caffeinated coffee consumption is associated with favorable changes in body fat. Clin Nutr 2023