Published on 26 November 2014

Regular drinking of coffee, in moderation, could help reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by up to 25%, according to a new study.

The Good things in life: Can coffee help in type 2 diabetes risk reduction? report was recently published by the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee (ISIC) to coincide with World Diabetes Day.

The ISIC annual diabetes report outlined the latest research on coffee and type 2 diabetes. More than 380 million people worldwide have the condition, costing around $548 billion USD (£348 billion) annually, making it one of the largest global health problems.

The research indicated that regular, moderate consumption of coffee could decrease an individual’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Key research findings included:

  • Epidemiological evidence shows that drinking three to four cups of coffee per day is associated with an approximate 25% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, compared to consuming none to less than two cups per day.
  • Research also suggested that each additional cup of coffee could help reduce the relative risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 7-8%.
  • Research indicated that caffeine was unlikely to be responsible for this effect - as consumption of both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee was associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • Recent work suggested that the type of coffee may also have benefits, with filtered coffee exhibiting a greater protective effect than boiled coffee, and decaffeinated coffee exhibiting a greater protective effect than caffeinated coffee.
A woman drinking coffee.

The Coffee and Health Diabetes Report is now in its third year, having first been produced following a symposium at the World Congress on Prevention of Diabetes, held in 2012. Each year, the report is updated to include new published studies which add to the body of research in this field.

DRWF asked Pam Dyson, Specialist Diabetes Dietitian at Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism and author of the DRWF leaflet A healthy diet and diabetes, to comment. She said: “The association between coffee drinking and a reduction in the risk of type 2 diabetes has now been reported in a number of studies, suggesting that coffee drinking may play a role in reducing risk.

“However, it is important to remember that this research is based on epidemiological evidence, meaning that a large selection of people are asked questions about what they eat and drink, and then they are followed up for a number of years to see who develops diabetes. We don't have any evidence from what is considered the gold standard in medical research, the randomised controlled trial (RCT), where some people would be told to drink coffee and others to avoid coffee to see if the coffee drinkers developed less diabetes. Unfortunately, RCTs are almost impossible to carry out for dietary studies as they need controlled conditions, present issues with compliance and have to be carried out over a long period of time.

“There are some other issues with the epidemiological approach. It cannot tell us what it is in coffee that is causing this effect, and whether or not there is something else that coffee drinkers do that may be reducing their risk of diabetes.

“Overall, in terms of diabetes risk, we do have strong evidence from RCTs that people who lose weight, increase their activity and adopt a healthy diet can reduce their risk by 50%, whether they are drinking coffee or not.”

Further information on coffee and diabetes can be found on the Coffee and Health website:

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