What are the associations between coffee intake and type 2 diabetes?

The body of evidence from epidemiological studies suggests that drinking 3-4 cups of coffee per day is associated with an approximate 25% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, compared to consuming none or less than 2 cups per day2-4,6-8,16-28. Research also suggests an exposure response relationship3,4,6-8.

Three large data sets are of particular note:

  • A 2002 cohort study of 17,111 Dutch men and women suggested that coffee consumption was associated with a substantially lower risk of clinical type 2 diabetes2.
  • A 2009 systematic review with a meta-analysis of 457,922 individuals and 21,897 newly-diagnosed cases of type 2 diabetes from eight different countries showed a statistically significant inverse association between coffee consumption and subsequent risk of type 2 diabetes3.
  • A further meta-analysis published in 2018 with 1,185,210 participants and 53,018 incident type 2 diabetes cases suggested that those in the highest category of coffee consumption (an average of 5 cups per day) had a 29% lower risk of type 2 diabetes compared with those who did not drink coffee4.

These results are supported by additional studies and reviews. Epidemiological studies from different countries have also confirmed the inverse association with coffee consumption16-29.

  • Interestingly, a 10 year follow-up study from Greece, published in 2015, highlighted the significance of habitual coffee drinking in relation to diabetes onset. The authors concluded that habitual coffee drinking, at a level of at least 250 ml/day, versus abstention, was found to exhibit significant protection against diabetes development, decreasing the risk of developing diabetes by more than 50% in this study14.
  • A 2018 study of adults aged 20-70 years with low levels of coffee consumption (the majority consuming 1 cup of coffee per week) suggested that a lower risk of both pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes was observed in coffee drinkers compared to non-drinkers29.
  • A 2021 meta-epidemiological study specifically in Asian populations, a less studied population group, suggested that drinking one cup of coffee per day reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes by 8%30.

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