Writing in the journal Nature Communications, academics revealed that the administration of caffeine suppressed appetite, increased energy expenditure and reduced the body weight of mice fed a high-fat diet.
They found that obese mice had unusual activity in the hypothalamus part of the brain which regulates energy balance. However, caffeine consumption interacted with that part of the brain and led to weight loss.
The researchers believe that a high-fat diet leads to increases in both the circulating levels of adenosine and a specific adenosine receptor (A1R), which results in obesity.
In the study, led by a team from the Huazhong University of Science and Technology in China, it was demonstrated that caffeine assists in blocking the downstream effects of excessive adenosine.
“Caffeine or its derivatives could represent a relevant strategy to counteract obesity and related comorbidities,” they wrote.
However, the mice were given the human equivalent human of around 30 cups of coffee, warns a scientist who was not involved in the study.
Dr Ben Desbrow, associate professor in Sports Nutrition at the Menzies Health Institute Queensland at Griffith University, said: “The major limitation with the application of the study (apart from it employing mice) is the dose of caffeine provided, which was 60mg/kg body weight. This is a huge dose, with an equivalent dose in humans likely to lead to severe caffeine toxicity — if not a fatal cardiac event. In the mice, the high dose of caffeine resulted in greater voluntary physical activity and a reduced food intake.”
However, he added there was promise in using caffeine to prompt weight loss: “We've performed a similar study using caffeine to manipulate responses to diet and exercise in humans (albeit with a much lower caffeine dose (6mg/kg body weight)). In this study, we also found that short-term food consumption was reduced and, importantly, that participants found undertaking exercise more enjoyable."
Source: Nature Communications
"Caffeine inhibits hypothalamic A1R to excite oxytocin neuron and ameliorate dietary obesity in mice"
Authors: Guo Zhang, et al.