Drinking a cup of coffee could tackle obesity

A new study finds that drinking a cup of coffee could have a direct effect on the body's brown fat functions.


Coffee is one of the most widely consumed beverages. The chemical composition of the coffee that we drink has not been known since the ground coffee sold in the market is usually a mix of beans with different degrees of roasting.

Coffee is the most loved beverage that contains caffeine, and the main form has been consumed since the times of our ancestors. Caffeine was considered to affect health negatively. However, most current studies demonstrate that caffeine is beneficial to health, just as in the treatment of obesity, yet very little is comprehended about the mechanism of activity of caffeine for obesity.

A new study by the scientists at the University of Nottingham have shed light on this and found that drinking some coffee can stimulate ‘brown fat,’ the body’s fat-battling defenses, which could be the way to tackling obesity and diabetes.

This is one of the first studies to be carried on humans to discover the components which directly have an impact on ‘brown fat’ functions, an essential part of the human body which plays a crucial role in how quickly we can burn calories as energy.

Brown adipose tissue (BAT), otherwise called brown fat, is one of two kinds of fat found in humans and other mammals. At first, just ascribed to babies and hibernating mammals, it was seen as of late that grown-ups could have brown fat too. Its principle capacity is to create body heat by burning calories. People with a lower BMI in this manner have a higher measure of brown fat.

Professor Michael Symonds, from the School of Medicine at the University of Nottingham who co-directed the study, said: “Brown fat works differently to other fat in your body and produces heat by burning sugar and fat, often in response to cold. Increasing its activity improves blood sugar control as well as improving blood lipid levels, and the extra calories burnt help with weight loss. However, until now, no one has found an acceptable way to stimulate its activity in humans.

“This is the first study in humans to show that something like a cup of coffee can have a direct effect on our brown fat functions. The potential implications of our results are pretty big, as obesity is a major health concern for society and we also have a growing diabetes epidemic, and brown fat could potentially be part of the solution in tackling them.”

Scientists conducted a series of stem cell studies to check if caffeine would stimulate brown fat. When they had discovered the right dose, they at that point proceeded onward to humans to check whether the outcomes were comparative.

The thermal imaging technique was used to track the body’s brown fat stores. This non-invasive technique encourages the group to find brown fat and evaluate its ability to create heat.

Professor Symonds said, “From our previous work, we knew that brown fat is mainly located in the neck region, so we were able to image someone straight after they had a drink to see if the brown fat got hotter.”

“The results were positive, and we now need to ascertain that caffeine as one of the ingredients in the coffee is acting as the stimulus or if there’s another component helping with the activation of brown fat. We are currently looking at caffeine supplements to test whether the effect is similar.”

“Once we have confirmed which component is responsible for this, it could potentially be used as part of a weight management regime or as part of glucose regulation program to help prevent diabetes.”

The study is published today in the journal Scientific Reports.


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