A new study has found a possible correlation between caffeine metabolism and body mass index (BMI), with slow metabolisers having a lower BMI and lower risk of diabetes. The study explored the impact genetics had on caffeine metabolism, making its findings more robust than earlier research in the field. The two genes that influence the function and level of metabolism, CYP1A2 and AHR, affect 95% of caffeine metabolisation in the body. Researcher Dr Dipender Gill hopes the new findings will direct further research, but warns against people trying to lose weight by drinking more coffee, as caffeine has adverse effects for some people.
The next step will be to determine whether drinking more coffee can assist people in maintaining a lower weight, based on the new research in the journal BMJ Medicine. It is unclear what percentage of the population metabolises caffeine quickly, and the research studied almost 10,000 people across six long-term investigations. Prior research into the correlation between caffeine and weight control had not shown a causal relationship. The latest research findings would be used to direct further research, mostly clinical studies, says Dr Gill.
The genetic variants that cause faster or slower metabolisation of caffeine make it possible for researchers to claim that slower metabolisers have lower BMIs and a lower risk of diabetes, while faster metabolisers have slightly higher BMIs and a slightly higher risk of diabetes. The new research has greater scientific rigour, as it focuses on the function and level of the enzyme, and the plasma caffeine levels it generates. Based on the study, however, Dr Gill advises against making sudden lifestyle or behavioural changes, as caffeine can generate adverse symptoms for certain people, such as palpitations and trouble sleeping.
While the new findings are significant, further research is required to determine caffeine’s influence on metabolic processes and weight control. The findings have broad implications, including for future studies on the link between obesity and gene mutations. While there is no immediate evidence to suggest that drinking coffee can reduce the risk of diabetes or help people lose weight, the new study offers a starting point for further exploration of the relationship between caffeine, genetics and BMI.