Can coffee help fight obesity?

Coffee can help you burn fat! Maybe…

Scientists from the University of Nottingham have discovered that drinking a cup of coffee can stimulate what is known as ‘brown fat’, the body’s internal fat fighters, which could be the key to battling obesity and diabetes.

The study, which was published 24 June 19 in the journal Scientific Reports, is one of the first to be conducted in humans to find components that could have a direct effect on brown fat cell functions, which impact how quickly the body can burn calories as energy.

Brown adipose tissue (BAT), also known as brown fat, is one of two types of fat found in humans and other mammals. According to the university, this type of tissue was initially thought to exist only in babies and hibernating mammals, but recent discoveries reveal that adults can have brown fat too. Its main function is to generate body heat by burning calories (as opposed to white fat, which is a result of storing excess calories).

People with a lower body mass index (BMI) therefore have a higher amount of brown fat.

In a press release issued by the university, Professor Michael Symonds, from the School of Medicine at the University of Nottingham who co-directed the study said, “Brown fat works in a different way 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.”

He further stated that 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. Interestingly, the coffee used in the study was instant coffee — Nescafe Original (1.8 g sachet ~65 mg caffeine dissolved in 200 ml water at 22 °C).

The university reported that the results of the study were positive, but they must now 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. The researchers are currently looking at caffeine supplements to test whether the effect is similar.

“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,” said Symonds.

Coffee has been having a couple of good months “news wise”. In addition to the new study, on 31 May 19, the State of California formally recognized that coffee should not carry a Proposition 65 “cancer warning” due to naturally occurring compounds formed when coffee is roasted.

California’s state regulator, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), concluded the substantial weight of evidence in scientific literature shows no association between coffee and a risk of cancer. (OEHHA first announced its intention to remove coffee from Prop 65 in June 2018, initiating a period of rigorous public consultation, peer review by the Carcinogen Identification Committee and approval by the California Office of Administrative Law.)

So, go ahead and enjoy your daily cup (s) of coffee!


On a side note, the deadline to submit your company for the 2019 Tea & Coffee Global Supplier Awards is this Sunday 30 June 2019. Beginning 1 July 2019, voting for the Awards will be opened to Tea & Coffee Trade Journal readers, who may cast their votes at and


  • Vanessa Facenda, editor Tea & Coffee Trade Journal. Keep in touch via [email protected]

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