Drinking coffee can help prevent obesity, scientists claim. A new study has identified a chemical compound in the caffeinated drink helps prevent some of the damaging effects of being overweight. Cholorgenic acid, or CGA, significantly reduced insulin resistance and the accumulation of fat in the livers of mice who were fed a high-fat diet.
The rodents were put on a high-fat diet for 15 weeks, during which time scientists at the University of Georgia injected them with a CGA solution twice a week. They discovered CGA was not only effective in preventing weight gain, it also helped maintain normal blood sugar levels and a healthy liver.
Lead author, Dr Yongjie Ma from the university’s College of Pharmacy, said: ‘Previous studies have shown that coffee consumption may lower the risk for chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Our study expands on this research by looking at the benefits associated with this specific compound, which is found in great abundance in coffee, but also in other fruits and vegetables like apples, pears, tomatoes and blueberries.’
During the past 20 years, there has been a dramatic increase in obesity in the U.S and UK. Common side effects of obesity, aside from weight gain, are increased insulin resistance and a build-up of fat in the liver. Left untreated, these disorders can cause diabetes and poor liver function.
‘CGA is a powerful antioxidant that reduces inflammation,’ said Dr Ma, who works in the laboratory of Professor Dexi Liu in the department of pharmaceutical and biomedical sciences. ‘A lot of evidence suggests that obesity-related diseases are caused by chronic inflammation, so if we can control that, we can hopefully offset some of the negative effects of excessive weight gain.’ But the researchers said CGA alone is not a cure for obesity.
Maintaining a healthy diet and taking regular exercise are still the best methods to reduce the risks associated with obesity. The mice in this study received a high dose of CGA, higher than that a human would absorb through regular coffee consumption or a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. But the scientists believe CGA may provide the foundation for a treatment for those in need of extra help to tackle their weight.
They said more research is needed to develop an improved CGA formulation specifically for human consumption. We’re not suggesting that people start drinking a lot of coffee to protect themselves from an unhealthy lifestyle,’ said Dr Ma. ‘But we do think that we might be able to create a useful therapeutic using CGA that will help those at risk for obesity-related disease as they make positive lifestyle changes.’
The study was published in Pharmaceutical Research.